Although the College’s men’s soccer team did not score a single goal in two games last week against Ramapo College and Richard Stockton College, they were able to get through the week without losing either. Both games ended in 0-0 ties and much of the credit for those two ties must be given to freshman goalkeeper Michael Cladek.
After the team suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats two weeks ago, head coach George Nazario decided it was time to make a switch, so he elected to start the rookie over senior captain and goalkeeper Shawn Mecchi in the College’s first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game against Ramapo last Wednesday.
“Nobody thinks that Mecchi was the reason we lost those two games a couple of weeks ago,” Nazario said. “But sometimes a line-up change can give the team a boost in confidence.”
Sophomore forward Matt Luber said it did just that. “We all feel very confident with him in the net,” Luber said, “and not just because of his shot-stopping abilities. His 70-yard punts also provide us with instant offense.”
Cladek accumulated 13 saves against Ramapo and every single one of them proved to be important because once again the Lions failed to score.
“It was really nerve-racking before the game started,” Cladek said. “But once the game started, I calmed down and just played.”
In Saturday’s game against Richard Stockton, it was much of the same for the Lions. Once again, Cladek was stellar in the net for the College, making eight saves, while the Lions were unable to capitalize on their offensive opportunities.
The ties with Stockton and Ramapo give the College a 5-2-2 record overall and an 0-1-2 record in the NJAC. The Lions have not allowed a goal in over 220 minutes, but they have not scored a goal in over 400 minutes.
The Lions are hoping, however, that if their offense picks up in the next few games and their defense plays the way it has been playing, then they will start adding numbers to the win column once again.
Today, the College will play their third NJAC home game in a row, this time against rival, Rowan University at 7:30 p.m. Luber said the Lions will try to use their experience playing on turf to their advantage.
“We build our team around the turf,” Luber said. “We purposely recruit quick players because on the turf, the ball moves a lot faster.”
On Saturday, the Lions travel to Camden to take on Rutgers University-Camden.