Men’s soccer stays tough to beat in NJAC

By Ryan Molicki
Correspondent

Once again proving they are not going anywhere anytime soon, the men’s soccer team ran with the Scarlet Raptors of No. 2 Rutgers-Camden in NJAC play for 1-1 draw on Wednesday, Oct. 2, though they fell to No. 7 Rutgers-Newark on Saturday, Oct. 5, in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss that went to double overtime before being settled.

In the draw with Rutgers-Camden, the Lions (7-3-2, 2-2-1) were awarded a penalty kick in the 31st minute when senior midfielder Kevin Shaw was taken down by a Rutgers-Camden defender right inside the box.

Being the leading scorer for the Lions, Shaw took the penalty kick and blasted it past Rutgers-Camden goalkeeper Mike Randall to put the Lions up a goal with his 13th goal of the season, en route to the Lions’ third result against ranked teams this year.

“We have shown that we can play with anyone in the country,” Shaw said. “We are confident going into these types of games knowing that if we come out and play well that we have a good chance of winning.”

The Lions went into halftime up one goal against a very physically and mentally tough team. Coming into Wednesday night’s game, the Scarlet Raptors were undefeated with an 11-0 record. After the break, the Scarlet Raptors came out firing and had three shots, two on goal, within the first 10 minutes of the second half. Senior goalkeeper Aaron Utman played an extremely tough game, recording four saves.

The score was evened by the Scarlet-Raptors in the 76th minute, when senior midfielder Stevan Austino ripped a shot from 20 yards out past Utman. Determined to regain the lead, the Lions were able to put two shots on goal in the last two minutes of the game, one being off a corner kick in the last 10 seconds.

The first overtime period was filled with lots of energy from both teams, which were looking to score that winning goal. In the second overtime period, Shaw had two more shots on goal — both saved by Scarlet Raptors’ keeper Mike Randall, who finished with nine saves in the game — but the Lions could not break through from the run of play, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

“I was happy with the way our team played, and we wish we could have won,” Shaw said. “But walking away from that game with a tie was not a bad result.”

After a hard-fought draw against the Scarlet Raptors of Rutgers-Camden, the Lions played the Scarlet Raiders of Rutgers-Newark. Trying to keep momentum going from the draw, the Lions were determined to have a strong showing against the Scarlet Raptors.

Senior midfielder Sean Casey was determined to keep the team’s mindset in the right place and get the win.

“To be honest, the team knows what has to be done, and we do a good job of getting ready come game time,” Casey said. “We really wanted to carry the momentum from the win and tie against ranked opponents into the Rutgers-Newark game.”

Men’s soccer battles to its third result in four tries against ranked teams. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Playing from behind for most of the game, the Lions persevered and tied the game late with a goal from Shaw, his 14th of the season. Although the Lions came back from being down 1-0, Rutgers-Newark was able to capitalize in the end of the second overtime period and fell to the Scarlet Raiders 2-1.

“As a captain, it is my job to make sure the team has solid training sessions, the same mindset and is ready to go come game time,” Casey said. “I am extremely lucky to be a part of the team we currently have. The team is extremely talented and everyone has the same goal, to reach the NCAA tournament.”

The Lions will play out of conference on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Muhlenberg College. They will return to NJAC action on Saturday, Oct. 12, when they host William Paterson University.