After defenders Eli Dennis and Martin Seiler suffered injuries during the Lions stretch of five games in 15 days, men’s soccer coach Bob Warming has had to reach into his bench to field a starting XI.
Starting with the 1-0 double overtime win against Northwestern on Sunday, Warming elected to go with a 3-5-2 formation, which gives the team an extra attacker to cover for the team in the back.
Warming said that the key to this formation is the hard work of the players in the midfield, particularly Owen Griffith and Grant Warming.
“I think those guys, even though they're not scoring a goal or getting an assist, they're getting the ball to us and they're keeping the ball for us and winning the ball back,” Warming said. “I have to give those two in particular the most credit.”
While adapting to a new formation usually has a learning curve, the Lions adjusted right away in their shut out of Northwestern. Defenders Brian Forgue, Shane Campbell and John Gallagher limited the Wildcats in 104 minutes of play.
Midfielder Marvin Ledgister said after the Bucknell game last Wednesday that the team had to overcome adversity if they were to be successful.
The Lions passed the test of learning a new formation in a hostile Big Ten environment.
For the 3-5-2 to be successful at the defensive level, the back line must communicate with each other effectively to limit scoring opportunities and a midfielder can drop back to cover if he is needed.
Forgue said while the new formation is meant to help on the offensive level, it helped the defense as well.
“It gave us the opportunity as a back three to focus on the defensive aspect of the game,” Forgue said.
The switch to the 3-5-2 has given midfielder Daniel Parr the opportunity to emerge in his role as a sub off the bench.
Parr was the difference maker against Northwestern, as he set up the game-winning goal in double overtime. He fired a shot that was saved by Wildcats goalie Tyler Miller. This attempt allowed attacker Hasani Sinclair to get free and score the game-winning goal.
In total, the senior played 51 minutes against the Wildcats off the bench.
“Dan almost never lost possession the whole game and he really changed the game for our team,” Warming said.
Parr has found a role on the team the past two seasons as a sub. While he appeared in 22 games in 2010 and 2011, he started just three of them, registering one assist. This season he has appeared in seven games, starting one of them. In his 210 minutes of play, he has registered three shots on goal.
With the team having the week off to practice their new formation, Warming has elected to practice in groups to get the chemistry of the new contributors like Parr adapted to the rest of the team.
“We have a few days here to train and refine it, so we’ll see what we can do,” Forgue said.