Blue Jays Battle to Draw in Home Opener

Philip Udinyiwe (10)
Philip Udinyiwe (10)

Fulton, Mo., March 16, 2021 – The Blue Jays men's soccer team knew it had a tough challenge coming for them in their home opener against the Iowa Wesleyan University Tigers. The Tigers were the defending SLIAC Champions from last season and were picked as the clear favorites for this season by the league coaches in the pre-season poll.  The Blue Jays were up to the challenge and outplayed the Tigers for most of the match in battling to a 1-1 draw through two overtimes.

The Blue Jays outshot the Tigers 14-9 for the game with many good scoring opportunities.  The Blue Jays seemed to score first, in the 11th minute, off of a through ball that was played to Jacob Skaggs who ripped a shot past the keeper that set off a celebration that proved to be short lived.  The referees conferred for a few minutes and ultimately ruled that Skaggs was offsides much to the dismay of the Blue Jays. The score remained 0-0.

Iowa Wesleyan would take advantage of that break to take the lead on a goal by Francisco Javier Saldana off of a pass by Xavier Lozada in the 18th minute. The Tigers led 1-0 and the Blue Jays would need to regroup.

Regroup is exactly what they would do after a yellow card foul occurred against IWU the Blue Jays would take advantage of the restart and Skaggs would make this one count after a free kick by the Blue Jays put the ball in the box after it bounced around off the Tigers defense it found Skaggs foot and he buried it in the back of the net to tie the game 1-1 setting off a celebration that would not be taken away from the Jays. 

The Blue Jays would control most of the game playing inside their offensive half for the majority of the game and keeping the pressure up by virtue of their 13 corner kicks compared to 0 for the visitors.  The Jays just couldn't find the back of the net again.

Tragedy almost struck the Jays in regulation's final seconds as the Tigers got a partial break away and an attempted game saving tackle by the Blue Jays was deemed from behind in the box resulting in a Tiger penalty shot with just six seconds remaining.  Francisco Javier Saldana would have the chance to be the hero for the Tigers but his shot struck the crossbar and went high into the air and the clock ran out sending the game into overtime.

Both teams battled through two overtimes exhaustedly trying to win the game but the game would end in 1-1 draw. 

Chase Vogt was outstanding in goal making seven saves on the night on the 8 Tiger shots on goal.

Head Coach Adam Galla had this to say about his teams intense effort, "Another very good performance again tonight against a veryskillful team. I thought we were excellent executing our game plan on both sides of the ball and our work rate in particular was fantastic.  We put ourselves in good position to get the win but just couldn't find the back of the net again."  He added, "I am very pleased with the effort and we are definitely heading in the right direction."

The Blue Jays will return to their home field on Sunday afternoon for a non-conference match up with the Illinois College Blueboys.  The match is set for a 3:30 p.m. kick off.