The Seton Hall men’s soccer team has been riding a roller coaster since the beginning of the sea- son.
The Pirates opened their season in August with a 6-0 win over Central Connecticut State, then failed to score from open play in four consecutive games as their creative struggles led to tight defeats.
Head coach Andreas Lindberg’s side displayed tenacity in defense, giving up only five goals combined to then No. 18 Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State, Lehigh and Big East rival Providence, but could find ways to break down better-quality opponents. Seton Hall’s lone goal in that stretch came via a penalty kick in a late 2-1 defeat against Florida Gulf Coast. The other three matches all were 1-0.
Comprehensively defeating local opponent NJIT, 4-1, on Sep.
24 set the record straight, and the Pirates kicked on to win their next three games. They knocked off conference rivals DePaul, 2-1, and Creighton, 1-0, then defeated Fordham 3-1, all at home.
The early-season dilemma looked to have been solved with- out compromising resolute defensive statistics a testament to the side’s ability to adapt without losing its identity and Lindberg’s Pirates looked primed for a surprisingly high finish in conference play after earning six points from a possible nine to start Big East play. Then the wheels came off again. Losing 2-0 to then No. 12 Georgetown in Washington was neither a surprise nor a major disappointment. The Hoyas are an excellent side and calling it a poor result for the Pirates would be unfair. However, the downward momentum would snowball again.
The next time out, Seton Hall played an ugly game, further marred by a deserved red card to the Pirates’ Stephen Elias at home to Butler. The visitors dominated for 90 minutes to the tune of a 4-0 drubbing on Parents’ Weekend, bringing the Pirates’ upward trajectory crashing back down.
Next came a tight 2-1 loss to Xavier on the road, the latest road defeat for a side that has gone 1-6-0 outside of South Orange. Once again, though, the season took another unexpected twist with No. 4 St. John’s visiting Owen T. Carroll field.
Seton Hall took its first point off a ranked side since beating No. 25 Creighton in 2017, equalizing late on to draw 1-1 against the Johnnies. Once again though, the Pirates could not build on their momentum and lost 2-1 to well-drilled Army in West Point.
The topsy-turvy season finds the Pirates in eight place in the Big East – and clutching the last ticket to the conference championship – with two games to play at seventh-placed Marquette and at home to basement-dwelling Villanova.
DePaul sits one point behind Seton Hall, so there is no more room for error. The Pirates have won three games in a row before but have twice gone three or more consecutive games without a point, and Lindberg’s squad has not won any of its last five. To play on past Nov. 6, the Hall must find its form again and keep it this time.
Kyle Beck can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @notkylebeck.