The men’s soccer team advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament when it took a 1-0 victory from Roger Williams University.
“Overall, we had good possession and we knocked the ball around pretty well,” head coach George Nazario said. “Unfortunately it took a while longer than expected to get the ball in the net.”
After a scoreless first half, sophomore midfielder Joe McGinley crossed a ball that sophomore forward Matt Luber settled to his feet.
Luber gained some space and connected on a shot from about 22 yards out 83 minutes into the game.
The goal was Luber’s sixth game-winner of the year, 10th goal overall, and brings him to 25 points this season.
“It was one of the best moments of my life, especially to do it with this team,” Luber said. “As a team, we all know we can play better than what we showed today. We dominated the game, but wasted opportunities, but it’s a good sign when you have an off day and still win.”
Just the week before, Luber netted the game-winner to clinch the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship. Starting the season ranked ninth in the NJAC polls, the Lions have risen above everyone’s expectations. Currently ranked No. 8 nationally, the hunt for a Division III Championship is on as the Lions now stand at 15-2-1.
“We’ve got some tough teams in front of us, but we have answered every challenge thus far,” Luber said. “If we play well, I feel like we can take it deep into the tournament.”
“I think we have a good team, a good bench and some luck, and as long as we keep those three things we will go as far as they can take us,” Nazario said.
Recently named NJAC Goalkeeper of the Year, sophomore goalie Matt Kasperavicius made six saves in between the pipes and recorded his sixth shutout of the year.
“We really dominated the game because we were passing (the ball) around the whole time,” Kasperavicius said. “We just have to play our style of game, keep possession, have good communication and work hard.”
Kasperavicius is currently ranked second in the conference with a 0.79 goals against average and a .831 save percentage. He is also a two-time recipient of the NJAC and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) defensive player of the week.
The 2005 All-NJAC Squad was announced last week and several Lions made the roster. Nazario was named Coach of the Year.
Senior midfielder Matt Connor received the David Logar Award for his leadership to the team. Connor scored seven goals and completed four assists to add 18 points to the Lions roster this season.
For the 2005 NJAC All-Star Team, Luber, McGinley and Kasperavicius were named to the First Team. On the Second Team is junior forward Tim Dudek, and senior defenseman Jeff Lageman and Connor.
The Lions will compete in the sectionals this Friday against a team to be determined.