PASADENA, Calif. (Sept. 2, 2016) – A controversial red card rendered the Caltech men's soccer team unable to hold a late second-half lead against Whitman College in a 4-3 opening-day loss on Friday afternoon.
What began as a back-and-forth affair, with shots on goal by either side within the first 15 minutes remained wide open for the game's entirety. Whitman would strike first with a well-struck shot from the top of the box into the lower left corner of the net, but freshman Kevin Yu (Park Ridge, N.J. / Park Ridge) responded barely a minute later. Yu collected the ball on the right wing after some good work from senior Neil McBlane (Edinburgh, Scotland / Boroughmuir), turned it inside, dribbled to the top of the box and fired a curling shot right around the outstretched fingertips of the visiting goalkeeper to level the match.
Whitman tallied another on its next shot to regain the lead in the 29th minute, but Caltech continued to push forward on offense with freshman Theo Yang (Columbia, Md. / Long Reach) forcing a save just moments afterward. Eight minutes later, junior Chris Haack (New York, N.Y. / The Browning School) found himself alone with the ball on the left side 30 yards from the goal and ripped another curling effort into the net to tie the match once again.
Tension rose through the final eight minutes of the first half, even including the final second as a free kick was awarded to Whitman just moments before the final whistle and the official allowed the visitors to take it past the expiration of the half. A screamer from 25 yards was met by the rising fist of senior J.D. Feist (Richardson, Texas / Jesuit Coll. Prep), who managed to punch the effort over the bar to keep the score even heading into the intermission.
The second half was no less nervy as a Caltech defender was called upon to clear a ball off the goal line within the first three minutes, but soon after Yang ripped yet another curling shot into the upper left corner of the goal as the substitute Whitman goalkeeper watched it fly by, having already given up hope of reaching the ball and resigning himself to Caltech leading 3-2.
Disaster struck for the Beavers, however, as senior Schaeffer Reed (Miami, Fla. / Westminster Christian) sprinted across the field to cover his fellow defender and caught the attacker in a hard challenge, resulting in a shocking straight red card that left Caltech down a man for the final 33 minutes.
The hosts weathered four Whitman shots, with two necessitating Feist's intervention, before the seemingly inevitable occurred and Whitman found the equalizer on a tap-in off a low cross in the 81st minute. The Beavers remained in the game thanks in large part to Feist, who made another three saves of increasing difficulty over the final nine minutes to send it to overtime.
Overtime is where the real effect of the red card became all-to-apparent as the Beavers' offense was condemned to go without a single shot since that fateful 58th minute. Meanwhile, the barrage continued from the visitors, with Feist making three saves in as many minutes before a ball finally made its way untouched across the box and found its way past his heroics on a one-touch shot from the back post five minutes into the extra period.
Yang put all of his team-high three shots on goal, while Feist ended the day with 10 saves and assistance from defenders on two others. Caltech converted on an impressive three of five total shots on goal.