Too little too late, Simpson men’s soccer drops conference opener to Wartburg

by Brock Borgeson

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Simpson men’s soccer took a tough 4-3 home loss Wartburg on Saturday, despite three-second half goals.

“When you get to the top teams in the conference there’s such a small margin for error,” head coach Rick Isaccson said. “What separates the winner from the loser is such a small margin and that’s what you saw today, two evenly matched teams. We didn’t do the little things today that would allow us to get the positive result while Wartburg did.”

A game that sat at 0-0 for the much of the first half turned into a scoring battle started off by Wartburg’s, Zach Smith in the 37th minute. Smith’s goal came after blocking a clearance attempt by goalkeeper Zach McEntee.

Mitchell White had a penalty kick opportunity in the 14th minute although he was denied by Wartburg (6-2-2, 1-0-0) goalkeeper, Austin Boyke, who ended with five saves on the day. White was previously 4-4 on penalty kicks in his career.

Tyler Neumann scored the first goal of the day for Simpson (8-4, 0-1) just 30 seconds into the second half. Things turned sour for the Storm at this point as Wartburg responded with a flurry of three goals within the 52nd and 75th minute.

Wartburg’s Dan Nadeau started the Knights’ scoring streak, which was highlighted by Zubeen Azari’s back-to-back goals coming in the 52nd and 75th minute.

“I think the four goals isn’t really an indication that Zach played poorly,” Isaacson said. “It’s more of that we gave Wartburg a lot of good looks at goal.”

Simpson showed some fight late, as Anthony Ashbridge scored his second goal in as many games, putting one up above Boyke in the 81st minute. Marcus Varnum added to the excitement as he put a rebound from a Ashbridge miss into the net, making it 4-3 in the 86th minute.

The Storm weren’t able to complete the comeback though, as Wartburg held onto their lead in the final five minutes of play.

Simpson will have a good opportunity to rebound from Saturday’s loss when they take on the Beavers of Storm Lake on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

“We’ll take it one game at a time,” Isaacson said. “We certainly won’t look past Buena Vista. They’ve traditionally struggled to go to the tournament and get above .500 in conference but they’ve got a new coach and a little bit of momentum. So we’ll take off tomorrow [Sunday] and then begin to look to Buena Vista on Wednesday.”