By Zach Gregory
FAIRBORN — The Wright State men’s soccer team got a much needed win over Horizon League opponent Valparaiso, Saturday night during Homecoming at Alumni Field. The Raiders, who had a shutout until four seconds left in the game, won 3-1.
Wright State (7-3-1, 2-2-1 HL) was looking to bounce back after two losses and a tie in its previous three contests, but Coach Bryan Davis said Valpo (6-3-1, 2-1-1 HL) wasn’t an easy opponent.
“That’s a really good team. It’s probably the best team we’ve played all season. I’m really proud of the effort of the guys. They came out and had a buzz and a bite to them. I thought they did a fantastic job,” he said. “Valpo is really good, and they make you earn everything, as shown by the goal with four seconds left. That’s frustrating. We made a mistake, but we’ll solve that. A win is a win, and we needed a conference win bad. We took some lumps in weird ways and we’ve got to get back on track.”
The Raiders scored two goals in the first half. Former Bellbrook Golden Eagle Eric Lynch scored an unassisted goal with 15:45 to play in the first half. A.J. Patterson scored a header off a pass from Wes Cain with five minutes left until the break.
Lynch said the team wanted to score early.
“I think it was perfect. We did everything we were supposed to do today. We came out with a lot of energy, the big crowd helped us out. We got an early goal, which we haven’t got all year. Great start and great finish,” he said.
Early in the second half, Brett Elder found Marquis Payton who put the ball in the net to put Wright State up 3-0.
Davis also praised Peguy Ngatcha for his play. Ngatcha was constantly putting pressure on the Crusader defense.
“It’s not on the stat sheet, but Peguy Ngatcha was the best player on the field for me in a lot of ways tonight. Their centerbacks are really good, but he was special,” said Davis. “I know he’s frustrated because he didn’t score, but I think he played at another level tonight.”
The Raiders had a 3-0 lead until Suleiman Thomas scored on a long shot with four seconds left. Wright State keeper Tyler Blackmer was visibly frustrated after the game, but Davis said he liked what he saw. Blackmer had five saves in the game.
Former Beavercreek player Tristan Lyle and Carroll Patriot grad Zach Zwiesler also saw some time in the match.
Lynch said the win over a tough league opponent will lift the spirit of the team, who had been disappointed in their recent play.
“It give us a lot of momentum going into the next conference games. We were on a little down slope the last three games. Now we can get back up. The team is confident and feeling good right now,” he said.
Wright State is on the road against Milwaukee at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday.
Reach Zach Gregory at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2124.