The No. 20 Metro men’s soccer team collected two non-conference wins on the road Sept. 3 and 5 in Bismarck, N.D.
The team opened their season with a nail-biting win over the University of Mary in the final minutes of double overtime, as forward Scott Grode punched in a free kick for the game-winning goal.
“That goal was huge because it was our first real season game and it boosts our confidence as a team,” said midfielder Steven Emory, who attempted a new team record of 13 shots in the game. “I had a lot of open looks, and their goalie came up big by stopping quite a few [shots].”
The Roadrunners returned to action Sept. 5, capturing a commanding 2-0 win versus Upper Iowa, in which Metro outshot the Peacocks 24-4 .
Defender Dele Johnson scored the first goal of the game off a header four seconds before the halftime whistle.
Forward Mark Herschberger added a second goal off a free kick from defender Tyler Wilson with just less than eight minutes to play, giving the Roadrunners a two-goal cushion.
In both games, Metro shot the ball 61 times, while their opponents were only able to achieve eight, two of which were on goal.
Seventh-year head coach Ken Parsons was happy to get both road wins and was encouraged by his team’s progress.
“We were creating a lot of attack and a lot of opportunities,” Parsons said. “It was disappointing to score only three goals when we could have easily scored more.”
Despite the low goal margin, Parsons said he expects to score more goals as the team gels.
”All of the other pieces were there,” Parson’s said. “We will get more comfortable in front of the goal. Our finishing touch just wasn’t there, but a lot of teams struggle with that early on.”
Parsons said that a lot of the team’s success was generated as a result of having so many scoring options.
“[Emory] orchestrates our attack,” Parsons explained. “Players around him like Scott Grode and Mark Herschberger both had goals this weekend. Teams will start to key in on different players so other guys will be expected to contribute.”
Playing teams out of the conference presents a whole new challenge, especially on the road, as nonconference opponents are less familiar to the team.
“We were traveling on the first weekend and playing two fairly good opponents, but we got out of there with two shutouts and two wins,” Parsons said. “Overall, it was a good weekend.”
The Roadrunners will be at Auraria Field Sept. 10 and 12, as they host Seattle Pacific University and Western Washington, respectively.
“We will take it weekend by weekend,” Parsons said. “We have good opponents to get us ready for conference play. [The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is] arguably the best conference in Division II soccer.”
The Metro men’s soccer team broke into the National Soccer Association of America’s NCAA Division II top-25 poll Sept. 7 at No. 20.