Men’s soccer goes 0-0-2 vs. non-conference foes

In need of wins, the Lions saw themselves in the midst of one of their toughest stretches of the season, taking on Muhlenberg College and 18th-ranked Salisbury University. The College finished the week with a modest two ties, pushing their overall record to 4-5-4.

All in all, the results were not bad. Because the games were non-conference, it gave the Lions an opportunity to mix and match lineups in preparation for their conference games this week.

The team hung with No. 18 Salisbury. (Courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

“With these two out-of-conference games against two respectable opponents, in reality, we had nothing to lose,” said senior forward Chris Pisano. “We experimented with the lineup a little to give us an idea of how we can have a different approach for our upcoming conference games, and overall, two ties is nothing disappointing. What’s most important now is to get wins against our upcoming conference opponents so we can make it into the playoffs.”

The College began the week against a strong Muhlenberg squad. The two clubs battled each other right from the very beginning. The Lions fired off seven shots, while the Mules responded with six shots of their own. With neither team able to enter the score column, the teams remained deadlocked entering the second half.

In the second half, neither team could push the envelope. The teams once again matched each other shot-for-shot, as the Lions fired 15 shots and the Mules ripped 14. The Lions nearly scored the game-wining goal when senior midfielder Anthony Dipalmo fired a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar.

When neither team could score in the two overtime periods, the game finished in a draw. It was only fitting that the teams came to a tie, since their stats were nearly identical to one another. The Lions had three more shots than the Mules, and the Mules had one more save than the Lions. Corner kicks were also fairly close, as the Lions edged out the Mules by three in that category.

“We experimented with the lineup and gave some players some different looks from different positions, and overall we out-shot them and came out with a tie, so it wasn’t a disappointing result,” said Pisano. “We definitely had some chances late in the game, hitting the crossbar and leaving a couple just wide of the post, so we definitely gave it a shot, but had to settle for the tie.”

To end the week, the team took on 18th-ranked Salisbury University, which came into the game with a 7-2-1 record. The Lions hung in and even proved that they could beat the Sea Gulls as they jumped to an early 1-0 lead. The Sea Gulls responded 23 minutes later to take a 2-1 lead, which they would hold onto to finish the first half.

With two minutes left in the game, the Lions elevated their play and came up big in the clutch. The Sea Gulls had a red card against them, giving the Lions the player advantage. Senior midfielder Michael Recchia took a feed from junior midfielder Taylor Gregory to strike the back of the net for his second goal of the season, which evened the score.

“It was late in the game where the ball was played through to Taylor Gregory and he only had the keeper to beat, and a come-from-behind tackle gave their defender a red card and a 11-10 player advantage for us,” said Pisano. “It was only a matter of time before we could tire out the defense by moving the ball around, and the game-tying goal came pretty easily.”

In the overtime periods, the teams battled back and forth. Both teams had two shots on goal in the first overtime, while the Sea Gulls outshot the Lions by two in the second. With no team able to hit the game-winner, the Lions were handed their fourth tie of the season.

After having mild success in their non-conference games, the Lions will look to improve upon their 0-3-2 NJAC record. The Lions have five NJAC games remaining, all of which are very important for the Lions’ pursuit of post-season play.

They will get the ball rolling again at home against William Patterson on Wednesday.