The past two weeks have pitted the men’s soccer team in four games against Muhlenberg College, William Paterson University, New Jersey City University and Rowan University. The Lions split the games, ending the season with a 7-8-1 record and a 4-5 record in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
The deciding last game against Rowan held the entire season in the balance. The Lions needed at least a tie to get a shot at going to the NJAC Tournament, and a win would have solidified their position. In a dramatic game, the Lions came up just short, losing 2-1 and ending their season.
“We handled Rowan pretty well in the first half, but they got an early goal in the second and it’s always hard to play catch up,” sophomore fullback Brent Samartino said. “Both teams were playing for a spot in the NJAC Tournament so it was a tough battle, but we still did not want to end the season with Rowan, our rival. Luber’s goal put some life back in us, but it wasn’t enough to help get a win.”
The Profs scored the first goal in the beginning of the second half off a corner kick. With less than 15 minutes left, the Profs netted yet another goal to get a 2-0 cushion on the Lions. Senior forward Matt Luber managed to find the back of the net and bring the score within one, but the Lions could not convert another.
Luber ended the season leading the team in goals (eight) and in points (18). This year alone, he has scored five game-winning goals, bringing his career total up to an impressive 12.
Hosting Muhlenberg on Oct. 16, the Lions dropped the game 2-0 in an unfortunate shutout. In the first half, head coach George Nazario mixed things up by putting in second string players to start the game instead of the normal starters. Muhlenberg’s sophomore forward Brendan Carroll and sophomore midfielder Billy Dalton each capitalized in the first half. Carroll scored less than a minute into the game while Dalton’s goal came in the 36th minute.
“We didn’t put together on the field what we worked on in practice,” Samartino said.
The Lions then traveled to Wayne on Oct. 18 to face off against William Paterson University, where they convincingly won 3-1 in an important game.
This time, “everything we worked on in practice, we executed in the game,” Samartino said.
The first goal was scored by Lions’ junior midfielder Joe McGinley in the 43rd minute. After halftime, William Paterson’s senior forward Kevin Dougherty tied up the score in the 59th minute.
Luber came through for the Lions to break the tie and scored what would be the game-winning goal with just over 10 minutes left in the game. In the 89th minute, junior defender Charles Heydt scored the insurance goal to seal the deal.
On Oct. 21, the Lions faced the New Jersey City Gothic Knights at home and were victorious by a score of 1-0. Luber once again came through with the lone goal in the game, assisted by senior defender Tim Dudek in the 14th minute. Junior goalkeeper Matt Kasperavicius came away with his second shutout of the season, tallying six saves.
“That was the best game the team played,” Kasperavicius said. “We were stringing our passes together, had good pressure on the ball and were able to get an early goal.”
This set up the climactic game against Rowan.
Despite the Lions’ best efforts, the team came up just short of making it to the next level. Samartino summarized the team’s feelings after the season: “The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”