Continuing its sudden offensive explosion, the College’s men’s soccer team put on a scoring clinic as it blew out Lincoln University 5-0.
The impressive victory, which raises the Lions’ record to 5-5-1, comes at a crucial point in the season. The Lions need to start peaking now as they look to springboard themselves into the playoffs on a winning streak.
The Lions got lucky in jumping out to an early lead, as a misplay by Lincoln in its own territory resulted in an own goal.
The mishap was quickly followed up with a strike by senior forward Matt Luber in the 11th minute to extend the Lions’ lead to 2-0.
“It’s tough as a team to come back from an early goal,” senior defender David Katan said. “It’s always a confidence booster to be in the lead, and when the goal comes that early, it kind of sets the pace for the rest of the game.”
Following Luber’s fifth goal of the season, the Lions’ offensive onslaught continued as sophomore forward Chris Nelan finished out the half by lacing a shot past the Lincoln goalkeeper to make it 3-0.
Junior forward Nick Kiel and sophomore defender and midfielder Ryan McMahon put the icing on the cake for the Lions with two more goals, Kiel’s being his first of the year, to complete the shutout.
The Lions finished out the game by resting junior goalkeeper Matt Kasperavicius, who notched one save in 52 minutes of work, a strong testament to the defense. This gave some playing time for the reserve keepers, sophomore Kevin Maulbeck and junior Stephen Scutellaro.
Katan spoke at length about the game, staying extremely optimistic despite the level of competition.
“Overall we had a great performance,” Katan said. “We kept possession for the greater portion of the game. They only had a couple shots on our keeper so defensively we did well, (and) offensively we had a ton of chances, which we won’t get when we play better teams, but we did walk away with a win.”
The game was an absolute must-win, as the Lions will almost certainly need to stay hot and win the New Jersey Athletic Conference to get an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.
The defense, which has been a work in progress all season, is finally molding into a formidable unit, as mistakes are being limited and play against the counter-attack is improving significantly.
Katan noted that the team has devoted extra practice time to defense and limiting mental mistakes, as head coach George Nazario has implemented a system where “we had to keep track of how many unforced errors we made individually.”
Katan was in favor of the mental tracking done in practice as “it helps to point out what you’re doing wrong sometimes.”
The next game for the Lions in their quest for an NCAA bid is today at William Paterson University at 7 p.m.