Being short-handed was no help, but the East Tennessee State soccer team wasn’t making any excuses on Sunday afternoon.
With three starters serving one-game suspensions, the Bucs fell 2-1 to Lipscomb at Summers-Taylor Stadium. It dropped the team ranked 22nd in the country to 0-2 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
“I don’t necessarily think that was really the defining area as to why we didn’t perform to our potential or why we were unable to win the game,” ETSU coach Scott Calabrese said. “It certainly doesn’t help us, but I think there are some other things at work that contributed to it more.”
David Geno, Frank Doumbe and Alesi Osorio all had to miss the game because of red cards they picked up in Friday’s night’s loss at Belmont. How important were the missing pieces? Geno’s four goals tie him for the team scoring lead with Aaron Schoenfeld. Doumbe is the Bucs’ leading assist man with four. Osario was the reining A-Sun player of the week.
The result broke ETSU’s streak of 15 consecutive home victories over unranked opponents.
“Our team has been dealt some adversity, although we’ve constructed it ourselves,” Calabrese said. “Now we have to construct our way out. We’re making crucial mistakes, whether it’s a bad defensive clearance or a bad decision. We are leaking some goals I would consider poor and soft goals. We have to tighten things up in the back defensively. And we’re making some of the same mistakes on offense as well.”
Making matters worse, Lipscomb’s winning goal came on a play that will cost another Bucs’ starter a suspension. ETSU’s Blaike Woodruff was called for an intentional handball was he stopped a shot from going in. The shot caught Woodfruff in the arm as he guarded the post. A penalty kick was awarded — Lipscomb’s Garrett Pettis converted to break a 1-1 tie —and Woodruff was given a red card, meaning the Bucs had to play the final 53 minutes with 10 men.
“For me, if the ball hits him in the arm and the ball plays the arm, it’s debatable,” Calabrese said, “because you have to determine intent. If the arm goes to play the ball, it is definitely a red card and it is a penalty. If the ball hits his arm, then the typical call is there is no intent. You would not get a red card. He and I chose to disagree in how that call should be interpreted.”
Lipscomb opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Nick Bibb scored on a pass from Pettis. Nate Hodges got the equalizer for ETSU a little more than a minute later when he blasted a 20-yard shot past Belmont goalkeeper Brent McGee.
ETSU, which hasn’t won since beating Virginia Tech on Sept. 20, fell to 6-3-1. Lipscomb improved to 2-8-2. The Bucs return to action Friday at North Florida.
“This hurts our confidence a little bit, but the only thing I know to do is get back to training and fix the things they’re doing wrong,” Calabrese said.