Lions fight for NJAC tournament berth

By Miguel Gonzalez

Assistant Sports Editor

The men’s soccer team has been pushing to qualify for a spot in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament. Two weeks ago, the Lions seemed well on their way after two wins, but last week, a loss and a tie might have hampered their chances.

On Monday, Oct. 3, the Lions defeated the College of Staten Island, 3-1, and overcame Ramapo College on Saturday, Oct. 8, in a gutsy 2-1 overtime victory.

The following week, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Lions suffered a 2-0 shutout loss against Stockton University. On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Lions closed out the week with a tie at 1 against Montclair State University.

After conceding back-to-back shutout losses on the last week of September, the Lions offense regained momentum by scoring three goals in their 3-1 victory against the College Of Staten Island Dolphins. In the 25th minute, senior forward Thomas Hogue broke through the penalty box and broke through the penalty box and scored the first goal.

The Dolphins countered in the 61st minute, when Dolphins forward Adrian Cosovic scored off a free kick. The Lions instantly responded when senior midfielder Nick Costelloe approached the penalty box and blasted in a shot for the second Lions goal.

Eleven minutes later, the Lions added a third goal to their lead. Sophomore midfielder/forward Nick Sample bolted across the Dolphins defense and shot the goal toward the right side to secure the College’s 3-1 victory.

Panizza scores against Montclair State (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk)
Panizza scores against Montclair State (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk)

While students and staff at the College were on fall break, the Lions surmounted past the Ramapo College Roadrunners in a 2-1 overtime victory. Freshman forward Mateo Panizza sparked the Lions offense early in the 13th minute. Hogue shot the ball from the left corner, and Panizza rebounded the shot for the Lions first goal.

The Roadrunners equalized the match in the 56th minute when forward Justin Olaya scored off a pass from forward Trevor Albrecht. The Lions spent the remainder of the half scrambling for a goal.

In overtime, the Lions halted the Roadrunners when Hogue received a through pass from sophomore defender Nick Provenzano and shot the game winning goal past the right corner.

By Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Lions, with a 3-2 conference record, were hopeful of competing in the NJAC tournament. Nonetheless, the 2-7-4 Stockton University Ospreys set the Lions back on a breezy night in Lions Stadium.

A tough Ospreys defense shunned the Lions offense and exploited turnovers.

“Stockton’s defense left no room behind for our forwards,” head coach George Nazario said. “Their goalie constantly blocked our shots. Even adjusting the formation and adding more offensive players out in front wasn’t enough to produce goals.”

The Osrpreys scored in the 22nd minute when junior forward Alex Kourahanis dribbled past the Lions defense and beat Walsh for the goal.

In the 60th minute, Ospreys forward Anthony Colofranson received a penalty kick. Despite Lions goalkeeper Walsh saving the shot, Colofranson rebounded it for a goal. The Lions settled for a 2-0 shutout. Walsh had a crucial performance of completing eight saves, including six in the second half.

“Walsh did more than he could,” Nazario said. “He had a great save on the penalty kick. If it wasn’t for him, we probably could have lost by 4 or 5.”

On the night of Saturday, Oct. 15, the Lions fought the Montclair State University Red Hawks and tied at 1 in two grueling overtime periods. The Lions struck first in the 43rd minute when Panizza took advantage of an errant pass from the Red Hawks defense and scored the goal off the right post.

With four minutes remaining, the Red Hawks tied the game when Red Hawks senior midfielder Damian Bziukiewicz crossed the ball and senior forward Mike Olla tapped it in for a goal. Both teams could not score in overtime.

With three games remaining, the Lions are on the road this week. On Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Lions will head to Gettysburg, Pa., for a match against the Gettysburg College Bullets. Then, the Lions will travel to Union, N.J., on Saturday, Oct. 22, for a crucial conference match against the Kean University Cougars.