Before the Ivy League weekend at Yale and Harvard, the Manhattan Jaspers were on a 10-day “honeymoon period,” as Jaspers’ head coach Jorden Scott called it, from when they last played and lost to the Fordham Rams 3-1.
A couple of positives junior captain Alex Shackley took away from the long break was being able to work on an attacking style of play to try to help turn their many goal chances into goal scores. Scott said his team needs to be more clinical in front of the goal, which includes being more selfish and direct at times.
The Jaspers’ honeymoon ended fast, as they struggled to score in the last three games, all to non-conference opponents.
At the end of Ivy League weekend, the Jaspers came away with a 0-0 overtime tie against the Yale Bulldogs and a 3-0 loss to the Harvard Crimson.
Scott said he thought they should have beaten the Bulldogs. Bulldog goalkeeper Ryan Simpson, who shutout the Jaspers in the draw, said his team had better possession. The Jaspers pride themselves in that area of their game, but the Bulldogs failed to capitalize and execute on their many goal chances.
“The Manhattan team put a lot of balls on target and made me make very difficult saves, so in that sense, it was pretty much even in terms of the attacking end of the field,” said Simpson.
As for the Crimson, Scott said all three scores by them were “scrappy goals” because the “enormous size” of Harvard “was hard to deal with at times and it came good at the right time for them.”
Crimson head coach Pieter Lehrer praised the Jaspers as “a very, very good team,” but as Scott said, scheduling bested them in the end.
“I think they ran out of gas a little bit near the end of the game. … They moved the ball well, they keep very good possession,” said Lehrer. “They had a big break in their schedule, which probably didn’t help them. That’s not going to help in just keeping a rhythm as a team, so that probably hurt a little bit. … I think when they get a little fitter and a couple of more teams into this, they’re going to be able to compete against anybody.”
Both games continued to show two problems that the Jaspers have encountered throughout the early part of their season: a strong first-half, lost second-half – although they played better against the Bulldogs – and an anemic offense.
“We certainly played two halves this weekend that were a little bit different from each other,” Scott said. “We made some changes at halftime. We tried to give players opportunities to come in and really impress us. … And we made some changes and those changes just disrupted our rhythm….”
“… Things just sort of went wrong for us at the wrong time,” he said.
Home Sweet Gaelic
Scott and the Jaspers looked forward to returning home to Gaelic Park after a five-game non-conference road trip to start the 2014-15 season. Unfortunately, their homecoming was a tough losing effort to the La Salle Explorers, 1-0, in overtime on Colman Kennedy’s 97th minute goal.
It was a physical game between the Explorers and Jaspers. The Jaspers looked understandably comfortable on their home field, played probably their best game all-around and goalkeeper Alex Coates McDowall was at the top of his game despite the loss.
But the offense continues to be an ongoing problem for them.
“We created a lot of chances,” said Shackley, “but just again lacking in finishing right now. It’s something we have to take and move forward with it.”
Besides the internal struggles they face, Explorers head coach Pat Farrell was yet another coach to come away quite impressed by these Jaspers.
“They put it to us,” said Farrell. “Usually, when we step out on something like this, it takes us a little while to get adjusted to the big surface. And they were good. You could see that they were organized. They held those flank players wide so they always had seam to knock the long ball in behind a defender, and they gave us a lot to handle in the first half.”
The question is: Can the Jaspers score enough to win, now that conference play is finally here?
Shackley said this offensive slump they are in will pass.
“To me, it’s one of these things you go through a dry pass sometimes, every team does, right now it’s just our dry pass,” said Shackley.