NJAC winner to defend title as playoffs approach

The College’s men’s soccer team captured the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) regular season title with a 2-0 victory over Kean University on Wednesday.

The Lions, ranked 16th in Division III according to the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, capped the regular season with an overall record of 12-2-1, while finishing 7-2 in conference play.

By finishing in first, the College receives a bye in the first round of the NJAC tournament and will host a semi-final match against New Jersey City University (NJCU) today at 7:30 pm.

“(The team has) done a lot of things teams haven’t done since I’ve been here,” head coach George Nazario said. “They’ve had a great campaign so far.”

Nazario said he expects a tough game against NJCU.

“They are a talented team that won 16 games for a reason,” Nazario said. “We have to make sure we come out and play better. We need to focus on defense, and offense will take care of the rest.”

After being held scoreless in the first half of the Kean game, the Lions scored a pair of goals in the second. Junior defenseman Tim Dudek scored the first goal as he headed in a cross from sophomore forward Matt Luber 5:15 into the second half.

Less than three minutes later, Luber scored on a pass from sophomore forward Craig Langan to make it 2-0.

Sophomore goalie Matt Kasperavicius recorded two saves for his second straight shutout and his fourth of the season. Kean’s goalie, freshman Dylan Hastings recorded five saves.

At halftime, the College honored its four seniors who played their final home game. Honored were co-captain and midfielder Matt Connor, co-captain and defenseman Jeff Lageman, midfielder Brian Rader, and forward Matt Woolston.

Matt Connor and Matt Kasperavicius were both named player of the week by the NJAC and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) for the week of Oct. 23.

Connor is the third Lion to receive NJAC player of the week honors after notching nine points last week. Connor scored two goals, including the game-winner in the Lions’ 4-2 NJAC road victory over Rutgers-Newark. He added his third goal of the week in a 2-0 victory against William Paterson.

“I put myself in some good spots. I try to be more aggressive and cause a spark so the team can focus on defense,” Connor said. “It makes it easier to get up on a team and not rely on scoring late in the game.”

Kasperavicius earned NJAC defensive player of the week honors after recording three saves in 65 minutes of shutout action in the victory over Rutgers-Newark. Including the shutout victory against William Paterson and Kean, Kasperavicius has recorded 245 minutes played without allowing a goal this week.

“It shows how well the defense and how well we’ve been playing,” Kasperavicius said. “They’re doing a great job in front of me. This award goes to the defense as well.”