Down four goals in the first 15 minutes of opening match is not how any team wants to start off a season, but the Lions found themselves staring down such a deficit last week on the first afternoon of September, eventually dropping the home opener to Drew University, 5-2.
“Our goal keeper (sophomore Adam Friedman) was at fault for the third and fourth goals,” coach George Nazario said. “I thought the first goal was definitely offsides,” Nazario said. “And the second one, the other team’s player (freshman forward Matthew Gragnano) beat our defender to the spot, out-jumped him and put it in the back of the net. Down four goals in 15 minutes of play isn’t good, but that’s the way it went.”
The Lions absorbed a haymaker that stumbled the team but failed to put them down for the count.
With under 20 minutes left in the first half, the Lions converted a corner kick sent into the box by sophomore defenseman Vince McEnroe and directed off the head of junior midfielder Anthony DiPalmo.
The offensive assault continued when Chris Pisano, a junior forward, sent another headed ball over the leaping Drew goaltender off a restart served up by senior defenseman Mike Razzoli.
“The team definitely showed a lot of fight cutting the lead in half in the first 45 minutes,” Nazario said. “It was good to see.”
A botched Lions penalty kick at the end of the first and another Drew goal by Philip Mabika at the start of the second that extended the Rangers’ lead to three shifted the momentum and halted the Lions’ comeback.
“That fifth goal definitely took the team out of it psychologically,” Nazario said. “It took the wind out of their sails.
“The thing about the first game is that it’s the first game,” Nazario said. “We have no ability to contact other coaches for scouting reports, no outside information, just what we can remember from last year. It’s tough to know who to focus on and who not. It’s one game and we’ll get past it.”
This weekend the Lions traveled down to Fredericksburg, Va. for the University of Mary Washingon Soccer Classic.
Game one against the host university was a double-overtime, 120-minute stalemate that ended tied at one.
Sophomore Taylor Gregory scored the lone Lions goal, the first goal of his collegiate career, late in the first half, tying the game at one where it would remain.
Lions defense was stellar allowing only three shots on goal throughout the entire contest.
Lions sophomore goalkeeper Aaron Utman earned his first start in net and helped preserve the tie stopping two shots.
The Lions were entrenched in another overtime battle during the second game of the weekend against Lynchburg College, this time taking a 1-0 loss.
Although the Lions outshot the Hornets 9-5 in regulation, it was Lynchburg’s Scott Colman that was able to beat Utman for the win.
It was a rough first week for the men’s soccer program but coach Nazario is still optimistic that an NJAC title is not out of the question.
“Last year we were picked to finish seventh in the conference and wound up in second,” Nazario said. “This team is equally capable of finishing at the top of the conference with a little luck and hard work.”