The stage was set for a new era in Lions’ soccer at the gorgeous new soccer complex’s inaugural game. The talented Lions’ team was seeking revenge against a strong conference opponent that handed them one of their four defeats in 2005.
Unfortunately, “Lady Luck” was dead set against keeping the College from evening the score against Ramapo University as the Lions dropped a 3-2 decision on Saturday in a contest where the breaks kept going the Roadrunners’ way.
The loss, which followed a gritty 0-0 tie on the road against Stevens Institute of Technology last Wednesday, dropped the Lions’ record to 2-3-1 overall and 0-1 in the conference, tying the amount of losses the Lions had in the entire regular season in 2005.
The Lions fell behind early yet again against the Roadrunners, finding themselves facing a 2-0 deficit at the half due to the feet of Ramapo sophomore midfielder Benji Eggart, who notched both goals.
Surging life back into the Lions’ offense was sophomore midfielder and defenseman Ryan McMahon, who scored a goal off of a mad dash for the ball in front of the Ramapo net in the 48th minute to bring the score to within one.
Momentum seemed to sway the Lions’ way following McMahon’s goal until Ramapo senior midfielder Jamie Biwald scored on a long throw-in from junior forward Justin Stanley.
A two-goal deficit notwithstanding, the Lions never hung their heads and gave up as they battled their way back into the game. They controlled possession until opportunity knocked and senior captain and forward Matt Luber answered with his team-leading third goal of the season, bringing the Lions back to within one.
The goal came off an impressive pass from junior defenseman Frank Fiorilli. Luber received the give, took a touch around a Ramapo defender and knocked it past the goalkeeper.
But Luber’s strike was not enough, as the Lions could not convert another opportunity into a goal.
“After that (goal), I thought we were going to come all the way back,” Luber said. “We absolutely dominated the game, but luck isn’t exactly on our side right now.”
Indeed, the Lions have been unlucky, as the final score against Ramapo was not at all indicative as to how the Lions played.
The College dominated most of play, outshooting Ramapo 11-6 and controlling the time of possession.
“I thought we created some good chances, but we had too many mistakes on the defensive side and they capitalized on their opportunities,” head coach George Nazario said.
Despite the numerous opportunities created, Ramapo senior goalkeeper Patrick Jagodzinski deflected most of the shots out of the net, making nine saves on the day.
“They’re creating opportunities, they’re just not going in,” Nazario said. “That’s the way it is. If we’re not creating opportunities, we have some stuff to worry about, but hopefully it’ll balance out and they’ll eventually start going in. The season is a marathon, not a sprint.”
The suspect Lions’ defense, which put on a solid performance against Stevens by allowing only five shots on goal, played well in comparison to weeks past.
The defense improved tremendously against the counterattack, yet still made too many mental mistakes in allowing the three Roadrunner goals.
“It’s just mental stuff,” Nazario said. “It’s not particularly the defenders but just the way certain guys are reacting on the field.”
“We have to play better mentally,” Luber said, echoing his coach’s sentiments on the defensive side of the ball. “Big mistakes at crucial times are what is killing us.”
The inexperienced defense, which Nazario has pledged full support to in saying that no changes will be made to defensive personnel, will “make their fair share of mistakes” as the coach said, but “you just hope those mistakes don’t penalize the team that much.”
The Lions’ next game is at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Lions’ Stadium against conference rival Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.