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Casarez, Defensive Midfield Come Up Big For Men’s Soccer

AJ Casarez

ASHLAND, Va. – Randolph-Macon junior AJ Casarez (Virginia Beach, Va. / Landstown) played a huge part of keeping a pesky Bridgewater offense at bay, while sophomore Colton Howell (Glen Allen, Va. / Glen Allen High School) and junior Anthony Astruc (Glen Allen, Va. / Benedictine) pounded a pair of goals as the Yellow Jackets bested the Eagles Thursday night.

The Basics

Score: Randolph-Macon 2, Bridgewater 1

Location/Venue: Ashland, Va./R-MC Soccer Field

Records: Randolph-Macon (6-6, 2-3 ODAC), Bridgewater (3-9-1, 1-3-1 ODAC)

How It Happened

  • Randolph-Macon had the momentum early. Howell sent his first shot towards goal in the early moments of the game, but it was not until the eighth minute that he tallied his goal. The sophomore redirected the ball that had started towards the box thanks to a free kick from Astruc. Sophomore Adoniyas Reynolds (Springfield, Va. / Paul VI) received the pass and headed it down to the feet of Howell, who sent it back into the lower left corner.
  • Bridgewater responded though. In the 15th minute, the Eagles got a through pass into the R-MC defensive third where Thomas White was able to slot it into goal to even the score at 1-1.
  • R-MC got a series of solid looks at goal around the 25th minute. Senior Josh Beeker (Bel Air, Md. / Bel Air) tried a shot that slipped wide. Moments later, fellow senior Paul Duffy (Salem, Va. / Salem) had a very dangerous look at goal that was saved by a BC defender as it caught the keeper out of position. The teams took the halftime break tied.
  • Randolph-Macon's defense faced a tough barrage of shots by Bridgewater in the 57th minute. The Eagles took three shots in a row, with the first two getting blocked by R-MC's defense. The defensive unit, made up of Beeker, Duffy, Casarez, sophomore Jason Nunez (Springfield, Va. / Bishop O'Connell) and freshman Max Radosavljevic (Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Cumberland Valley) stood tall in that moment as well as in a trio of dangerous chances by the Eagles about ten minutes later. The Eagles got a pair of corner kicks and a shot that was blocked by the smothering defensive squad.
  • Astruc broke the score in the 74th minute. While R-MC was organizing, he saw an open look at goal from 30+ yards out. His hard shot off the left foot escaped above the keeper to give R-MC the 2-1 lead, which was eventually the final.

Inside The Numbers

  • Casarez and Beeker were the noticeable ball hawks on the evening. The two were able to possess first-and-second chance balls and worked through the defensive midfield to throw Bridgewater's offense out of sync.
  • Radosavljevic also played well in the defensive third as well as took chances down the sidelines in the midfield.
  • Freshman Penny Senior (Kingston, Jamaica / Meadowbrook ) provided offensive firepower in the way of a team-high three shots as well as a dozen other one-on-one and fast-break looks.
  • Freshman goalkeeper Anthony Ivanov (North Brunswick, N.J. / Immaculata) made two saves in goal. He earned his third win.
  • The defensive unit allowed no shots on goal in the second half.
  • Connor Lorenz (Bel Air, Md. / Bel Air) played critically off the bench. The sophomore provided direction for the Yellow Jackets through the midfield. He played out of his normal position tonight, but didn't miss a beat. Lorenz took well to the responsibility of both stealing away possessions from his opponent while also pushing forward for offensive chances.
  • Junior Ruben Niamien (Fredericksburg, Va. / Chancellor) provided quality minutes off the bench as well. He was critical in setting up chances in the attacking third and providing energy when needed for R-MC.

Other Notes

  • Tonight's win marked the 150th career victory for Head Coach Josh Laux. Laux is in his fifth season with R-MC and earned his 46th win as a Yellow Jacket. He spent 11 seasons with Hampden-Sydney before returning to his alma mater. 

Up Next

Randolph-Macon will face Emory & Henry on Saturday. The game time has been moved to 12:00 Noon and Senior Day festivities are slated for after the conclusion of the contest. Also announced today was a change for next week. R-MC will face Gettysburg at 5:00 PM on Tuesday instead of Monday as previously scheduled.