Lions see both ends of shutouts, drop first conference match

By Miguel Gonzalez
Sports Editor

After a 3-0 victory against Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham on Wednesday, Sept. 13, the men’s soccer team found themselves on the opposite side of a shutout when they lost 3-0 to the William Paterson University Pioneers at home on Saturday, Sept. 16.

The Pioneers scored twice in the first four minutes. When the Pioneers received a corner kick in the first minute, senior midfielder JP Gonzales crossed straight to the net. Junior defensive back Charlie Lizardo jumped on top of Lions defenders and headed in the Pioneers first goal.

Afridi kicks one shot on goal. (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk)

Then the Pioneers scored again on the next play. Sophomore midfielder Cameron Allen received a pass from freshman midfielder Jordan Rosenblum and ripped a shot into the back of the net.

“The team came out flat against the Pioneers,” head coach George Nazario said. “They took advantage and knocked in an early goal.”

The men’s soccer team could not counterattack as often as the Pioneers. Pioneers such as sophomore midfielder/defensive back Keysean Brant-Sharp and Gonzales were constantly intercepting passes and winning one-on-one confrontations.

In the 25th minute, sophomore midfielder Michael Maltese landed the team’s first shot on goal.

Maltese took advantage of a breakaway from the Pioneers defense and shot at the right side of net. However, Pioneers sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Quigley leaped forward and caught the shot for a save.

Twelve minutes later, the Pioneers landed their third goal when Allen tapped in a shot to the bottom left of the net. Despite the 3-0 deficit, freshman goalkeeper Michael Kayal recorded two crucial saves in the first half.

The Lions were a different team in the second half with more physicality and aggressiveness.

Senior captain forward Michael Kassak set the tone as he ran past Pioneer defenders, secured a cross and shot closely at Quigley. Five minutes later, senior midfielder Kevin Nelan leaped in for a header shot off a corner kick from senior midfielder Peter Dresch.

Despite their aggressive play, the Lions offense continued to struggle. In the 57th minute, junior defender Nick Sample dribbled to an open space at the left side and ripped a hard shot high off the right goal post.

“For our offense, it was tough trying to get through the net mainly because of shaky rebounds,” Nazario said. “Our team had a hard time with possession and William Paterson simply knocked off scoring opportunities.”

With six minutes remaining, freshman forward Abdullah Afridi laid out another speedy shot at Kingley. The Pioneers immediately countered when sophomore forward Kyle Adams launched a cross to the middle of the Lions penalty box until freshman midfielder Ryan Vazquez slid in and blocked it.

The Lions ultimately lost their first conference match against the Pioneers, 3-0. The loss drops the Lions to a 4-3 record. Meanwhile, the Pioneers extend their win streak to six games and record their fifth consecutive shutout.

“Our team definitely learned today that soccer is a 90-minute sport,” Nazario said. “Even though we were quickly down by halftime, our team got back on its feet and started defending and taking more opportunities. We will definitely continue this resilient playing into our next match against Drew.”

The Lions will remain at home on Wednesday, Sept. 20, as they take on Drew University at Lions Stadium starting at 7:30 p.m. Later on Saturday, Sept. 23, the team will travel to Jersey City, New Jersey, for a conference match against New Jersey City University.