The Lions had a week of highs and lows, picking up a much-needed win, a hardfought tie and a heartbreaking loss.
The victory and defeat were tallied within the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) against two perennial playoff opponents, as the Lions took down the Pioneers of William Paterson University, 3-0, after falling to the Ospreys of Richard Stockton College, 2-1.
The 15th-ranked Pioneers’ loss was their first in conference play, as well as their first shutout loss, as the Lions rolled to the win on the road in convincing fashion.
The offense took control in the contest.
Junior forward Kevin Luber scored the first and last goals of the game, netting his second on a free kick in the final second of the game. The scores were his eighth and ninth of the year.
Senior forward Chris Nelan helped the cause, slipping in his fifth goal of the year late in the second half to ice the game for the Lions.
“The win at William Paterson was a big result,” Nelan said. “Scoring three goals and maintaining a shutout are both good indicators in the improvement of our game.”
With the win, the Lions evened their overall record at 7-7-2, with a 3-4 record in the NJAC. The win also gave head coach George Nazario his 150th career victory in his 14th season with the College.
The fourth NJAC loss came as the Lions fell at home to the Ospreys of Richard Stockton by a final of 2-1. The Osprey’s victory extended their win streak to eight games and improved them to an 11-3-1 overall record, including 5-1 in the NJAC.
The visitors struck first on a breakaway goal to end the first half up 1-0. Then, red hot Luber struck yet again, as he knotted up the game midway through the second half on an assist from junior midfielder Anthony Staropoli.
The tie was short-lived, however, as the Ospreys added the game-winner after the 77-minute mark to secure the win.
“The Stockton game was a very tough loss,” Nelan said. “We had the better of the play for a lot of the game.”
The Lions’ only out-of-conference game was a grueling battle against the second ranked Falcons of Messiah College that resulted in a 1-1 double-overtime tie.
The Falcons struck first, as senior forward Matt Dorsey tallied his third goal of the season to put them up 1-0 at the break.
The lead lasted only a few minutes, as Lions’ freshman midfielder Anthony DiPalmo recorded his first career goal to even the match at the final 1-1 score.
“It was pretty grueling physically, especially since we were on our heels playing defense for the majority of the game,” Nelan said.
Sophomore goalkeeper Eric Goldwaser saved six shots in the game, while Messiah goalkeeper Jared Clugston notched two saves.
This game echoed a similar one from last season, as the two teams went to two overtimes with the Falcons edging the Lions in a 2-1 thriller.
“It was similar to last year’s game in that both teams had opportunities to win – more so Messiah this time around,” Nelan said.
“Our keeper did a tremendous job.” The College will try and continue that headstrong play when they hit the field today, as they play host to Muhlenberg College at 3 p.m.
Michael O’Donnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org