TIGERS ERUPT FOR WIN ON SENIOR DAY
(October 27, 2009) HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, VA – The Hampden-Sydney 2009 soccer seniors finished their last regular season game in style, dropping ODAC powerhouse Roanoke by a margin of 5-1. Behind a record-breaking day from sophomore Bryan Wharton (Glen Allen, VA/Deep Run) who scored four goals, the Tigers pushed their record to 15-3-0 overall and 8-2-0 in the ODAC. The 15 overall wins and the 8 ODAC wins both tie the best marks in school history set by the 1994 squad.
Playing on a soggy Miller Field, neither team took long to start attacking on the offensive end. The two teams traded shots on goal for the first ten minutes before Wharton struck in the 13th minute. On the play, freshman Nick DeProspero (Midlothian, VA/Cosby) fed Wharton the ball at the top of the box. Wharton spun through two defenders and fired a shot past the diving keeper to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Both sides had more chances in the half, including a shot from junior Matt Swaney (Potomac Falls, VA/Potomac Falls) that hit the right post, but neither team found the net, sending the game to halftime with the Tigers holding a 1-0 lead.
Hampden-Sydney came out in the second half playing at a blistering pace. The Tigers were the aggressors all over the field, and their intensity paid off in the 56th minute when Wharton struck for the second time. Senior Christopher Tait (Nokesville, VA/Brentsville) carried the ball up the left side of the field before sending a cross to freshman Chris Whiteside (Virginia Beach, VA/Frank W. Cox) near the top of the box. Whiteside tapped the ball over to Wharton who blasted in a laser from about 20 yards to put Hampden-Sydney up 2-0. Just moments later, the Tigers regained possession and DeProspero carried the ball down the right side of the field before sending a cross over the front of the goal to Whiteside, who headed the ball to Wharton in front of the goal for the easy put away and a 3-0 lead.
Roanoke still had some fight left in them, however, and their persistence paid off in the 59th minute when they earned a corner kick on the right side of the field. Matt Standley sent the ball into the box for the Maroons, where it found the foot of Cameron Lee, who knocked it into the net to pull Roanoke within 3-1. That would be as close as Roanoke would get, however, because Wharton was able to find the net for a fourth time in the 73rd minute. On the play, a long ball from the Tigers' back line was played forward, and senior speedster JoJo Howard (Lanexa, VA/New Kent) got to it before any Roanoke defenders were able to catch him. Howard dropped off a pass to Wharton, who again found himself in perfect position, and Wharton did the rest, launching a bullet from the top of the box that beat a sprawling goalkeeper.
The Tigers added a final tally in the 82nd minute on a strike from junior Matt Hampton (Virginia Beach, VA/Kellam). This time, Howard possessed the ball in the midfield and played a ball to an unmarked Hampton who was just above the left corner of the penalty box. After surveying the situation, Hampton lobbed a bending shot to the back post, which it struck before ricocheting into the goal for his first goal of the season and Hampden-Sydney's fifth of the game.
Wharton's four goals pushed his season tally to 14, equaling the impressive mark that he set last season as a freshman. DeProspero's two assists on the day raised his season tally to 10, which is tops in the ODAC. The Tigers' 10 shutouts this season also equals the best mark in school history, set by the 1999 Tigers.
Hampden-Sydney honored their five-man senior class following the game, and it was quite a way to go out for the stellar quintet of Tigers. The senior class of Cooper Anderson, Brett Chonko, JoJo Howard, Will Robertson, and Christopher Tait have so far compiled 48 total wins, 25 conference wins, and a home record of 32-8-3. Over the last four years they have been monumental in turning the Hampden-Sydney soccer team into a perennial contender.
The Tigers' next match will be an ODAC quarterfinal matchup against the Generals of Washington & Lee on Saturday, October 31st at 1 pm on Miller Field.