By Dan Beck
The DeSales men’s soccer team is on track to have one of their best regular seasons in recent memory. But while the Bulldogs are focusing on the regular season, they are also setting their sights on making it into the post-season playoffs.
The team shutout Delaware Valley College with a score of 1-0 on Saturday, October 23. Junior Derek Long’s early goal turned out to be the deciding factor as the Bulldogs held on for the win. The shutout was the fifth of the season and the third straight shutout for sophomore goalie, Adam Franczak.
The Bulldogs have been on a roll lately, winning four straight games and staying undefeated in the Freedom Conference. Head coach, George Crampton, has been impressed with the team’s performance, as well as with the collaborative effort made by the players.
“The season is going well. The individuals have come together for each other as a team,” said Crampton.
“We are a pretty tight group of guys and I think that shows a lot on the field. Even the guys on the bench are helping enormously by rooting us on and really keeping the guys on the field going,” said Franczak.
While Crampton is pleased with how the Bulldogs mesh as a team, he also recognized Franczak’s achievements as the goalkeeper. Franczak has been nothing short of spectacular this season. He is en route to breaking the school record for consecutive shutout time and posts a 0.64 goals against average this season.
Franczak is “playing out of this world,” said Crampton.
Other strong performances have been turned in by junior Jonathan Balfour, who was recently named Freedom Conference Player of the Week after he scored two goals and added one assist in two Freedom Conference victories. Derek Long, who leads the Bulldogs with 27 points on the season, has also been a stand-out player.
While the season has been successful thus far, the men are looking forward to postseason play. Franczak said the team has set their goals for the playoffs, where they hope to win the Freedom Conference championship and return to the NCAA tournament.
The Bulldogs’ season up to this point indicates that they are capable of winning the conference. Their schedule has not been easy, but for the most part, they have managed to dominate against the teams they have faced.
“Three of our four losses have been to top regionally ranked teams,” said Crampton.
One of those losses came to perennial power and reigning national champion, Messiah College, in a close 3-2 defeat.
A win in the Bulldogs season finale on Saturday, October 30, against King’s College will grant them the number one seed in the Freedom Conference playoffs, which begin November 2. Despite the fact that they have not yet lost a game in conference play, the men still remain in second place in the Freedom Conference, trailing Eastern University by one point. Still, it is the postseason where the DeSales men’s soccer team hopes to leave their mark.
“We want to win the conference and go as far as we can in the national tournament,” said Franczak. “I just want to be a part of the team that makes a name for DeSales in the soccer community,” he added.