By Miguel Gonzalez
The men’s soccer team endured challenging matches against both Division III Rutgers University campuses: the Rutgers University-Camden Scarlet Raptors and Rutgers University-Newark Scarlet Raiders.
On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the Lions battled the Scarlet Raptors to a 1-1 tie after two overtime periods at the Soccer Complex.
The following Saturday, Sept. 30, the team lost 3-1 to the No. 3 nationally ranked Scarlet Raiders in Newark, New Jersey, and dropped their record to 4-4-1.
Freshman goalkeeper Michael Kayal led the Lions defense together throughout the 110-minute marathon match against the Scarlet Raptors. The Raptors struck first in the 4th minute when junior midfielder Walter Barreto kicked the ball straight to Kayal.
Kayal blocked a plethora of shots as the Scarlet Raptors recorded four shots on two consecutive corner kicks. In the 26th minute, the Lions countered when junior midfielder Joerg Jauk scored on a penalty kick to the team a 1-0 lead.
Both teams fought hard for possession in the midfield. At the end of the first half, The Scarlet Raptors snuck in a last minute goal. Raptors midfielder Vincenzo Masitti secured a feeding pass from fellow midfielder Jawon Daniels and tapped in the tying goal.
With both teams tied at 1-1 at halftime, the match entered into a scoreless stalemate. During the second half, sophomore midfielder Sam Monaco, junior defender Nick Provenzano and junior midfielder Matt Skinner were able to land header shots, but none netted a goal. At the same time, the Lions defense was able to hold down the Scarlet Raptors to four shots during the second half.
In the first overtime period, Kayal made a crucial save to keep the game tied. Scarlet Raptors senior midfielder/forward Brad Maine shot upward and Kayal flicked the ball to off bounds. By the end of the second overtime period, both teams left the conference match with a 1-1 tie.
“It was that type of game where both teams sought important conference points,” head coach George Nazario said. “Kayal had one important save in overtime to keep the game tied.”
On the road at Newark, the Lions faced the undefeated 11-0 Scarlet Raiders. The Scarlet Raiders dispatched the Lions in the 3-1 loss.
The Lions were able to repel the Scarlet Raiders from their half until 16th minute. The Lions defense was then rocked by three consecutive shots.
The Scarlet Raiders broke through the Lions net when senior midfielder Hubert Dul feed a long pass to sophomore forward Fabio De Sousa. Sousa then dribbled past Kayal in a one-on-one confrontation and fired in a goal.
The men’s soccer team endured more setbacks as the first half continued. In the 19th minute, Scarlet Raptors freshman defender Adrian Velazquez headed a shot at Kayal. Kayal was able to block the shot but Dul scored on the rebound to put the Scarlet Raptors up by 2-0.
The Scarlet Raptors continued their constant bombardment until the 29th minute. Sousa scored on a penalty kick to put the Lions into a 3-0 deficit.
“The team went on a 12 minute spell and scored three goals on us,” Nazario said. “The statistics don’t describe the match. The game was much tighter between both teams, but Rutgers showed why they are ranked third in the country.”
In the second half, the Lions were able to prevent a shutout. In the 73rd minute, senior midfielder Peter Dresch hit the crossbar. Monaco then caught the rebound and dribbled past the Scarlet Raiders goalkeeper to score the Lions sole goal. Ultimately, the Lions dropped a 3-1 loss while the Scarlet Raiders increased their winning streak to 12 games. Heading into October, Nazario sees opportunities for the team to win more conference matches.
“It’s a great time for the team to get on a roll,” Nazario said. “We have the chance to play different opposition against a non-conference opponent. Then, the team can secure a conference win at Ramapo this Saturday.”