The Utica College men’s soccer team lost their last game of the season to conference opponent Houghton College 4-1.
The Highlanders were able to get off to a strong start with an opening goal in the eighth minute by Andrew Bussey. The Pioneers were able to get on the board late in the first half by who else, than captain and all-time goal leader, Shane Ruffing. The shot was taken from about 30 yards out and snipped into the low corner for the senior’s last Pioneer goal. This marks 34 goals and 78 points during his stay at UC.
The second half was all Houghton, starting with a give and go ball in the 64th minute to take the lead once again. Nine minutes later Highlander Ben Lawrence added an insurance goal to go up 3-1. With five minutes left in regulation Houghton added the final goal of the match onto the score board. This conference win clinched the third seed in the Empire 8 tournament for the Highlanders. The Pioneers finish their season with a 5-13 overall record and 1-6 Empire 8 standing.
As UC entered this match, head coach Brian Marcantonio felt optimistic
“We went out there trying to get a result, throughout the season we got pretty banged up,” Marcantonio said. “We lost seven guys to injuries and all we were hoping for in this one was a good effort.”
Marcantonio wanted to be able to tell one final word of advice to his departing seniors before the game.
“I told my seniors to enjoy it, this is their last match and they all had a great four years here at UC. The message was just to try and have fun out there,” he said.
The Pioneers lost five seniors after the Houghton game, and with a ton of injuries that happened throughout the season they haven’t even had a chance to think about the future yet.
“It’s too early to think about how next season will play out,” Marcantonio said.”I mean recruiting is a factor that we have not touched too much on. But in any case we are looking forward to it and hope to have a good run.”
After a season ending a way no coach wants to see, Marcantonio has no plans to change his game style for the future.
“No, our game plan is strong and all we are looking for is more depth and less injuries,” he said. “We all look to build for the future seasons.”