Lyons finish strong, spoil Springfield’s undefeated season

On Oct. 28, Wheaton’s men’s soccer team finished their season in impressive fashion, handing Springfield College their first loss in a two-to-one victory at Keefe Field. The game served as a curtain call for seven seniors, who were honored in a pregame ceremony and flanked by their families and loved ones. Two of these individuals, forward Amara Sesay ’18 and goalkeeper Eric Wisniewski ’18, proved crucial to the Lyons’ success that afternoon.

Though it seemed that Springfield’s early dominance of the ball would prove decisive, the Lyons got off to a hot start in the 12th minute when Curran Wait ’19 scored the opening goal, his fourth of the season. They continued this aggressive style of play throughout the first half, leaving Springfield unable to score leading into the break.

The second half started out just as strong when Sesay scored his 18th and final goal of the season just two minutes in. Sesay finished the season with an absolutely stellar 42 points, the bulk of his 96 career points at Wheaton.

Of Sesay’s impact on the team, defender Nathan Hodgson ’20 said, “His ability to hold up and distribute the ball as well as score goals was unparalleled. Whenever we needed someone to step up and score a crucial goal he would be there.” Every Lyon will certainly miss Sesay’s presence on the field next season, and the offensive hole he leaves will be difficult to fill; he provided Wheaton with nearly half of all goals scored this season.

Defense was the name of the game that afternoon, and no Lyon better exemplified this than Wisniewski, who collected eight saves, seven in the second half, on his way to notching his fifth win of the season. Wisniewski came up huge in the clutch, leading the Lyons’ defensive effort in a dominant showing. Though he allowed one Springfield goal in the 76th minute, it ultimately mattered little. The Wheaton team fought hard to end their senior members’ soccer careers on a high note.

Wisniewski himself finished his tenure as Wheaton’s premier keeper with a 17-13-1 record and .704 percent save percentage, starting in 30 of the 33 games he appeared in.

This final outing was a last hurrah for a number of familiar faces to Keene Field, notably co-captain Sean Hurlburt ’18, midfielder Dimitri Roumeliotis ’18 and forward Louis Chavez ’18. Each was a key component of Wheaton’s play, playing with the aggression and heart that the Lyons exemplify.

About the future of the team, especially with so many key players graduating, Neil Fitzgerald ’20 emphasized how crucial it will be for the team to keep up this momentum early next season: “With a lot of returnees, it’s going to be important to get back into the groove. NEWMAC playoffs are the goal for sure, maybe even a championship—anything can happen. That’s the standard every year.”

With this season marred by heartbreak and adversity at every turn, especially in the wake of head coach Matt Cushing’s unexpected passing, it was a bittersweet conclusion for the boys in blue and white.