A look at the men’s soccer past

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By: Brian Laubscher

Today our list of moments takes a look back at the men’s soccer teams from 1998-2008. There are some great games and odd moments here to boot.  Here they are:

My first favorite memory occurred against Southern Virginia though I’m having some trouble putting my finger on exactly when it occurred.  I’m thinking 1998 or 1999 and I am positive it was at the Liberty Hall Fields so if anyone out there can recall, I’d appreciate you helping me fill in the blanks.  Anyone who was at the game would probably not forget what happened after SVU scored its first goal of the game, which I believe also knotted the contest.  Whoever the player was that scored, ripped his shirt off and twirled it as though he had just won the World Cup on a penalty kick.  His antics were not finished however, as he decided to run into the temporary stands that were always set up on the sideline by Route 60.  He located what I hope was his girlfriend and decided to plant a kiss before running back onto the field so the game could continue.  I hope everyone was as astonished as I was at the player’s antics even though he was never carded.  I guess it worked though because I’ll never forget it even if it may have been an exhibition game (because the schedules don’t back up the memory).

Note the distance from the hill to the right to the woods on the left...

Note the distance from the hill on the right to the woods on the left...

I’ll throw the next two bizarre moments together.  The first occurred on October 4, 1998 as W&L defeated Savannah College of Art & Design by a score of 4-3 in overtime.  I wasn’t at the game, but remember speaking with then-SID assistant Andy Krauss after the game and he was still shaken.  The Generals were leading when a player for SCAD had a seizure on the field due to forgetting to take his medication.  The player turned blue before coming around, but it was enough to throw W&L for a loop as SCAD went on to tie the game.  The Generals eventually won the game in overtime.  The coach for Savannah Art & Design in that game?  None other than current W&L women’s soccer coach Neil Cunningham.  The second bizarre scene occurred either in 2000 or 2001, can’t recall for sure.  I’m almost positive that it was homecoming and there was a nice crowd on hand.  Anyway, one female W&L student decided to streak from the bank end of the Liberty Hall Fields to the woods on the other side.  That’s a long way to run.  Another one I wasn’t there for and inexplicably my PA guy, Rich Campbell, heard the commotion but never saw the streaker.  He was kind enough to share the story from second-hand accounts though.  I heard later that it was a to-remain-nameless spring sport athlete who ran like the wind and was never caught.

Now on to some more serious moments.  The 2000 season is by far the best in school history and it sort of came out of nowhere, which made it even more special.  The Generals finished 9-8 in 1999 and had graduated some pretty good players, including leading scorer Jamie Parker.  This was probably the best look at what great leadership and team chemistry can do for a team.  The Generals had talent, but probably not 19-2 talent.  They began with an exciting 2-1 overtime win over Catholic and went on to win their first seven games.  A 2-1 loss to Roanoke in the eighth game wasn’t enough to trip up W&L as the Generals went on to win their next 11 games en route to winning their first ODAC title since the 1989 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Virginia Wesleyan in the finals.  W&L added a 12th-straight win with a 4-1 defeat of Frostburg State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before the run ended with a 1-0 loss to Christopher Newport.

Brian Pirkle

Brian Pirkle

The next moment was a 4-1 win over Virginia Wesleyan on October 26, 2002.  I’m pretty sure it was homecoming and most of the time, the opponent doesn’t matter on homecoming, the Generals usually come away with the win.  However, this Marlins squad came into the game with a 15-0-1 record and was ranked second nationally.  W&L hammered VWC on this day.  The Marlins struck first with a goal at the 32:01 mark, but W&L evened it at 1-1 just 5:46 later on a goal by Brian Pirkle.  Brad Murphy scored a pair of second-half goals, Keith Sullivan scored one and Jacob Stoehr had a pair of assists in the win.  Tim Foley made four saves in goal.  An oddity occurred just weeks later when the Marlins downed W&L 4-0 in the ODAC Tournament.  However, VWC had used an ineligible player, allowing W&L to advance in its place before falling to Randolph-Macon in the semifinals, 2-0.

The 2003 ODAC Tournament was a pretty exciting run for the Generals.  W&L recorded a 3-4-2 conference mark that season and entered the tournament with a 7-5-2 overall record.  The Generals were the seventh seed and opened up with second-seeded Roanoke.  The physical match (48 fouls and seven yellow cards combined) ended in a 1-1 tie and W&L advanced to the semifinals on penalty kicks (3-1).  The Generals then took on sixth-seeded Guilford in the semifinals and played the Quakers to a 2-2 draw.  Goalie Michael Stanton stopped one shot in the penalty kick session (6-5), allowing W&L to advance to the finals.  In the championship, W&L kept it scoreless through the first 45 minutes, but could not hold off the Marlins, who scored three second-half tallies en route to the win.  Making the finals was such an unexpected feat, let alone needing to win on PK’s in two games to make it there.

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3 Responses to “A look at the men’s soccer past”

  1. Rich Campbell Says:

    I still can’t believe I missed it, either. From what I was told, though, that made me one of the lucky ones!

    I’ll always associate the Jane’s Addiction song “Jane Says” with W&L men’s soccer. When I would do the PA at games during my freshman year in the fall of 1999, the team had an awesome live version of the song its warm-up mix. Hearing it now always reminds me of my first few days at W&L, which, needless to say, were amazing.

  2. Kelli Says:

    Rich, was the first streaker TS? I think it was!

  3. Terry Says:

    I don’t remember talent being an issue on that 2000 team, especially given that no other W&L team has come close to them in terms of accomplishments before or since.

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