By Mike Herold
Sometimes things just don’t go your way, no matter how hard you try. This certainly seemed to be the theme for the men’s soccer team this week, as they were outscored 4-0 in their least succesful week so far, dropping the team just below the .500 mark for the season.
The Lions lost in two very different ways this week — a close contest on the road against Stevens Institute of Technology and a blowout at home against conference foe Ramapo College.
The game against Stevens was a defensive struggle, with neither team attempting more than eight shots (and with even fewer shots that were actually on-target) during play. The only goal came midway through the second half, the only one of three possible saves that freshman goalkeeper Maciej Libucha failed to make. The College’s offense struggled during the game, attempting only four shots total, just one of which had to be saved.
“Stevens is a great squad and they do a really good job holding the ball up with their defense and midfield,” junior midfielder Tyler Higgins said. “They made it hard for us to work up the field and broke up a lot of our passes. We were able to get through a few times but couldn’t finish it off.”
By contrast, the Lions’ second game of the week was a much more offensive battle, one in which the team certainly appeared to be superior to their opposition — despite the game’s final score of 3-0. The College lost due to their failure to convert opportunities, missing 10 of their 14 total shots, rather than being outplayed by Ramapo, who missed only four of 11. In fact, for a good portion of the first half, the team looked much stronger than Ramapo, and not until an off-sides call halfway through the period which negated a possible penalty kick did they show any signs of weakening.
“We decided we hadn’t pressured as much in the Stevens game and that we needed to change that,” Higgins explained. “We added a second forward from the start and a third one in the second half to keep up the high pressure and try to break up their play from the back.”
After that play though, Ramapo scored the first goal of the game occurred less than 10 minutes later. The Lions’ collective confidence seemed drained and the rest of the game just seemed to go Ramapo’s way. Not only that, but after Ramapo’s second goal in the 58th minute, the College seemed to be frustrated, missing two shots well over the goal (which went impressive distances into the next field).
Tension was high during the game’s final 15 minutes, with yellow cards being issued to a player on both teams, along with several penalties (many of which were gasp-inducing to the otherwise tame crowd, including one headbutt by a Ramapo player), but the Lions were just unable to thrive in the chaos, while Ramapo managed to convert one final drive in the 86th minute to close out the game.
The Lions will try to rebound next week with three games: home games against Richard Stockton College on Tuesday and Farleigh Dickinson University-Florham on Thursday followed by an evening road game on Saturday at Montclair State University.
“We’ll just take things one game at a time and look forward to Stockton on Tuesday night,” Higgins said. “We’ll have to keep doing our best to create chances and just hope that we can put as many of them away as we can and get some wins through that.”