TOWSON, Md. — There were two things Goucher wanted to accomplish today and a victory over Juniata would go a long way toward achieving both of them.
For starters, head coach Bryan Laut and his Gophers wanted to send the three seniors playing the final home game of their careers out on a high note. The other objective was to improve the team's chances of earning one of the unclaimed spots in the Landmark Conference playoffs.
On both fronts, the Gophers were successful. They pinned a 3-0 setback on the Eagles on "Senior Day" at Beldon Field and they also passed Moravian in the standings, moving up to seventh place.
Following a pre-game ceremony in which Luis Gomes (Bushkill, Pa./East Stroudsburg North), Marco Grotti (Milmay, N.J./Millville) and Daniel Vu-Duc (Frederick, Md./Urbana) were recognized, Grotti got off Goucher's first shot just 1:11 into the contest. The opposing keeper made the save, keeping the game scoreless.
That changed, though. in the 15th minute. Ryan Belluch (Reading, Pa./Muhlenberg) put the Gophers (6-9-1, 3-4 Landmark) up 1-0 by knocking a ball past James Johnson into the right corner. Konrad Bulanowski (Philadelphia, Pa./The Shipley School) picked up an assist for the pass he made into the box to Belluch.
A corner kick led to Goucher's second goal, which was scored by Drew Phillips (Hoosick Falls, N.Y./Hoosick Falls Central School) at 31:03. There were two assists awarded on the play, one to Ellis Martin (Verona, N.J./Verona), who took the corner kick, and the other to Tate Becker (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch).
Scott Mt. Pleasant (Clifton Park, N.Y./Shenendehowa) became the 11th Goucher player to score a goal this season when he and Sam Bloxam (Center Valley, Pa./Faith Christian Academy) hooked up on the final goal of the contest at 63:24.
The Eagles (3-12-1, 0-7 Landmark) finished with a slim 15-13 edge in shots and forced freshman goalkeeper Daniel Hendry (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) to make a total of nine saves before his fourth shutout of the season became official. Hendry lowered his goals-against average to 1.86 with today's performance.
"Today was a great day for the Goucher men's soccer program we were were able to send our three seniors out with a win in their final home game, plus we kept ourselves alive for a playoff spot," said Laut. "It's been an amazing three-week stretch for us. To go from 0-3 in the conference to having a chance for our best conference record in program history and a chance to make the Landmark playoffs for a second year in a row really shows the true character and determination of our team."
Goucher will still need to overtake at least three more teams by the end of the regular season one week from today in order to claims a playoff berth. The Gophers will automatically pass the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Susquehanna if they defeat the Crusaders next Saturday in Selinsgrove, Pa. If that happens, they would still need either Catholic or Drew to lose or at least one of them to finish in a draw with their scheduled opponent.