A newcomer still adapting to the higher level of play, along with adapting to an entirely new culture, Gannon University freshman Mathias Krigbaum delivered his biggest performance yet in Saturday’s 5-2 men’s soccer victory over nationally ranked Millersville.
Whatever nerves, doubts or aches the native of Denmark might have been feeling never showed in his play, as he netted a hat trick in the Knights’ PSAC win.
That road victory, coupled with a 2-1 overtime win Wednesday at home over the University of the District of Columbia and a 3-0 win over Alderson Broaddus Tuesday, left the Knights with an overall record of 6-2-1 and a PSAC mark of 2-1-1 going into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. home match against Shippensburg.
Krigbaum scored all three of his goals in the second half against Millersville Saturday to help the Knights pull away to victory.
“We knew that we were playing a very good team who was ranked 20th in the nation, so we expected a tough game,” Krigbaum said.
“We knew we could dominate them if we played at our best, and our second half was close to a perfect half.”
The Marauders came out striking early and took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute on a goal by Jaxson Burns.
For 39 minutes, the match seemed like a low-scoring affair, until Gannon’s Hamza Mourchid erased the goose-egg on the scoreboard by scoring his 11th goal of the season.
The Knights carried that momentum by continuing an aggressive attack, with Krigbaum scoring the first of his three goals in the 65th minute to put the Knights up 2-1.
Krigbaum wasn’t done, as he scored another goal two minutes later to make it 3-1.
After that, the offense exploded. Mourchid, the senior leader, connected off an assist from Krigbaum to notch his 12th goal of the season.
Following his assist, Krigbaum completed his first hat-trick as a freshman by floating a beauty past the Marauders’ goalie in the 77th minute for his fifth goal of the season. Just like that, Gannon led 5-2.
“The feeling [of a hat trick] was amazing,” Krigbaum said. “But the important thing was that we played a very good game against a good team.”
Millersville responded with too-little, too-late by a goal from Marcus Frangakis in the 84th minute to make it 5-2 in favor of the Knights.
Saturday’s win followed a nail-biting 2-1 overtime victory the University of District of Columbia Wednesday at McConnell Family Stadium.
Early in that match, Gannon continued a recent trend by allowing an early goal to fall behind 1-0. In the 46th minute, Gabriel Torres of UDC found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Also continuing the recent trend, the Knights’ defense buckled down the rest of the way and held UDC scoreless.
At the half, Gannon trailed 1-0 but senior leadership took over in the second half. Mourchid continued his hot scoring streak by netting yet another to equalize the match at 1-1 in the game’s 53rd minute.
That was Mourchid’s 10th goal of the season, which tied him for the top spot among all NCAA Division II men’s soccer players at that time.
The offense didn’t stop with Mourchid’s goal. The team unleashed an onslaught of shots until finally hometown freshman Alex Schroeck beamed the ball past the defense in the 99th minute to carry the Knights to the overtime victory.
Krigbaum said he’s optimistic the Knights can continue their recent solid play.
“We hope that we can maintain our momentum and keep playing as we did against Millersville,” he said. “If we can carry on, we can go far this season and hopefully reach the playoffs.”
Tuesday evening, the Knights took on the Battlers of Alderson Broaddus.
Gannon came out on top shutting out the Battlers 3-0 at McConnell Family Stadium.
Mourchid, freshman Luis Driemel and Kobowane each scored a goal to help the Knights seal the victory.
Gannon will continue its PSAC schedule by traveling to Slippery Rock for a 4 p.m. match Wednesday.
Coach Dale White said his team is starting to see what it can do if it remains healthy and focused on doing the right things.
“Players like Sergio Kobowane and Josh Ott are beginning to be very effective in their work off the ball, he said. “We were not tipped to beat Millersville as they were favorites to win the whole conference.
“However, within the team we knew we could do well and I think the feeling was we just need a few things to come together and we could mount a challenge.”
White said the recent wins won’t affect the way the team prepares.
“We will continue to keep working, continue to find new ways to improve and get better and see where that leads us,” he said. “This is a very focused group of young men.
“The leadership on the team, of George Stannard, Jorge Hernandez, Hamza Mourchid and Jason Fox, ensure that the younger players are doing everything they need to do to sustain and build on the success.”