Men’s soccer eliminated from playoff contention

 Junior goalkeeper Maciej Libucha saves the ball for the Lions. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Junior goalkeeper Maciej Libucha saves the ball for the Lions. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

The men’s soccer team fell in overtime to William Paterson University, 1-0, in an anticlimactic penultimate game that eliminated the College from NJAC playoff contention.

The Lions (6-9-2, 2-6) knew they needed at least a draw to keep their NJAC hopes alive heading into this week’s season finale. But as it is, a squad largely made up of underclassmen will now look to use a disappointing season as a learning experience for next year.

“Dealing with adversity is part of the learning process,” junior goalkeeper Maciej Libucha said. “We had our ups and downs this season. If the guys returning next year can take the positives from this season and straighten out the things that didn’t go so well, there is no doubt in my mind the team will bounce back next year.”

However, he Lions had given themselves multiple opportunities to win the game against William Paterson in both halves.

The best chance might have come in the 20th minute when sophomore midfielder Jason O’Donnell hit a header off the post, and freshman forward Michael Kassak had a pair of late breakaways that were snuffed out by the Ospreys’ goalkeeper.

But William Paterson put the game away with a golden goal in the 92nd minute, as strong individual play from freshman forward Chris Noel — who took a pass into the box, fought off his defender and rocketed a shot into the net — gave the road team the three points.

The goal came despite a solid defensive effort and 14-save game from Libucha, who rarely faced any shots from inside the box.

“The communication throughout the game was pretty good from me all the way into the midfield, which allowed us to defend tightly as a unit and only limit William Paterson to those long distance shots,” Libucha said. “It’s been a part of the game plan from our coach all season.

Offensively, though, the Lions were shutout for the fifth time in nine conference games, a record the Lions will try to improve upon in their final game of the season against Rowan University on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

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