Wesleyan Gains Top-20 National Ranking After Asante Brooks '10 Nets Game-Winner vs. Trinity

Austin Woolridge '11 and Asante Brooks '10

Knocking off their second nationally ranked opponent in a four-day span, the Cardinals scored two goals in the final 13 minutes, the first by Austin Woolridge '11 (#7, main photo) and the second by Asante Brooks '10 (#22, photo insert upper left) to get past Trinity Sat., Oct. 3. Trinity was ranked third in New England and 22nd nationally to start the week while Wesleyan was fourth in New England. Combined with their victory over Wheaton, the Cardinals secured a top-20 spot on the NSCAA national Division III poll released Tues., Oct. 6, holding the #15 spot. Wesleyan also is now ranked second in New England behind Williams.

At Trinity, the Bantams took an early lead which they held for more than 70 minutes. In the 78th minute, Woolridge broke through for the tying goal, making overtime likely. But Brooks got past the Bantam defense in the 86th minute and was taken down in the box by the Trinity keeper, resulting in a Wesleyan penalty kick. Brooks put the shot home off the goalpost for what proved to be the game-winner. For his efforts during the week, Brooks was rewarded by the NESCAC with its Player of the Week honor.

Continuing to shine in the Cardinal net, Adam Purdy '13 gave up just his third goal of the season while logging five saves.

Wesleyan kept its streak going with a home game against Coast Guard Tues., Oct. 6, winning 3-0. Wesleyan wasted little time breaking the ice as the Cardinals got control of the ball near midfield and Brooks sent the ball down the left side to Geoff Zartarian '11, who brought the ball closer to the goal and fired a left-footed shot that deflected off the thigh of a Coast Guard defender but not enough to prevent it from going into the net just 20 seconds into the contest.

Then at the 30-minute mark, Keisuke Yamashita '10 netted his team-leading third goal, taking a pass from Ian Waldron '13 at the top right corner of the box, turning and firing a bullet into the far side of the net. Just 36 seconds later, the two reversed roles as Waldron was the recipient of a Yamashita pass on the right and put home a sharper-angled shot to make it 3-0. It was his first career goal. 

Wesleyan got three saves from Purdy during his 78 minutes in the net, all in the first half, before Nigel Stacey '11 handled the duties for the final 12 minutes, helping the Cardinals post their fifth shutout of the season. The Cardinals have yielded just three goals in eight games this season, ranking 10th nationally in Division III for goals-against average and seventh for team save percentage coming into the Coast Guard game. Wesleyan is now undefeated (6-0-2) for the sixth time in team history after eight games, the last coming in 2006 when the Cardinals set the school record with a 9-0-3 start.

Up next for the team was a home game with Bowdoin, ranked seventh in New England, Sat., Oct. 10 in another pivotal NESCAC matchup. The teams played to a 0-0 deadlock as Purdy collected six saves en route to his fifth shutout of the season.

Now at 6-0-3 to begin the year, the Cardinals have tied the second-best start in school history, equaling the record of the 1939 squad which ended its year at 6-0-3. Still, the 2006 squad is the record-holder with its 9-0-3 start.

Wesleyan will look to extend its streak another game when it plays at Western Connecticut Wed., Oct. 14.

(Photos by Peter Stein '84)