Profs hand Lions season-ending loss

After dropping their game on Oct. 24 to the Profs (12-7-1) of Rowan University, the Lions (10-6-3) must have thought they were seeing double.

The Lions lost two games to the Profs this week, including a quarterfinal match in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament.

Both games were lost by one goal.

“Our mindset was that we had to come out strong, play our game and do what needs to be done,” senior goalkeeper Matt Kasperavicius said. “The feeling was hard to take as it was the end of our season and, for a lot of us, our college soccer career.”

The Lions’ falling to the Profs on the road in their regular season finale set the teams up for a rematch at the College.

The third-seeded Lions lost the NJAC Tournament game to the sixth-seeded Profs by a final score of 1-0. The College presented a solid effort as senior goalkeeper Steve Scutellaro and Kasperavicius combined on nine saves.

On the other side of the ball, the Lions had 15 shots on goal but none were able to find the net.

The closest chance the Lions had to score was by sophomore forward Kevin Luber. His header in the 59th minute barely missed the net as it hit off the top crossbar, deflecting the ball and any chance the Lions had of scoring.

With the loss, the No. 22 Lions drop to 10-6-3 on the season and let the NJAC crown slip from their grasp.

Senior forward Nima Rahimi, who had three shots on goal in the tournament loss, dissected Rowan’s game strategy and explained why it affected his team.

“We knew what Rowan was capable of, and they play the same style every year,” Rahimi said. “They sit back, put a lot of numbers behind the ball and look to counterattack because they have overall good team speed. Unfortunately, one of those counterattacks turned into a goal for them, and once they scored, they put even more emphasis on defending.”

“It’s difficult to try and score when this type of strategy is used,” he continued. “When you’re attacking and you have to deal with nine field players and the goalkeeper all in a 30-yard distance from the goal, it will always be difficult to score.”

The Profs move to the semifinals today where they will face the Montclair State University Red Hawks at 7:30 p.m.

The Lions may not have ended the year on a high note, but the team was still able to improve from last season’s sub-.500 record.

“This season, we knew that when we played our game we could play with anyone in the country,” Rahimi said. “Unfortunately we were unable to find our best form in the last few games of the season, but overall, it was a good season.”