EASTON, Pa. – The Lafayette men’s soccer team suffered a heartbreaking defeat in its season opener on Friday evening at Oaks Stadium, dropping a 1-0 double-overtime decision to St. Francis Brooklyn.
Following an excellent chance from sophomore Josh Kruczek that hit the underside of the crossbar and out, the Terriers came back down the field and Djiby Sarr found space with a cutback toward the right corner of the 18-yard box. Sarr fired a perfect curling ball outside the outstretched arm of Lafayette junior goalkeeper Brad Seeber and into the corner of the net on the far side for the game winner.
The loss is the first in a season opener for the Leopards since 2012, a road loss to Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J. Interestingly enough, Lafayette went on to a 9-8-4 record that season and claimed the Patriot League championship that November.
The game began slowly as neither team was able to muster a shot until the 17th minute when Sarr sent a dribbler outside Seeber’s right post, slipping on the effort.
A strong chance at an opening goal for the Maroon and White came about seven minutes later as a ball won by freshman Evan Vare was sent to Kruczek down the left flank. Kruczek spun out of the way of his defender and left an excellent ball for a cutting Ryan Egan on the left side of the box. Egan’s strong shot forced a diving save to the keeper’s left and the ball went out for a corner.
The chance didn’t end there, though, as Egan connected with Vare on the ensuing chance. The senior’s ball was curled into the far side of the box where Vare was there for a clean header. However, the rookie lifted the ball just over the bar to end the opportunity.
The game moved through the break and into the latter stages before another good chance from Egan almost recorded the game’s first marker. Working through the middle with Kruczek, the captain bullied his way into open space at the top of box and fired a gorgeous shot high and right that hit the crossbar square and out of play.
The Terriers worked a decent chance late in the 87th minute as a one-time shot from Yussuf Olajide sailed just over the bar and the game went into extra time.
The first minutes of overtime were controlled by Lafayette as Egan was determined to find the back of the net. In the 91st minute, he worked down the right side, side-stepped a defender and sent a low, difficult bouncer that was handled Terriers’ keeper Seth Erdman. Just two minutes later, hustle gave the Maroon and White their best opportunity for a winner.
Pressing the Terrier defense, Egan blocked a clear on the left side, won a 50/50 ball in the box and drew a foul for a penalty kick. The captain stepped up and fired a low shot toward the right post that was brilliantly stopped by Erdman over the end line.
Kruczek’s chance was the Leopards’ last hope in the 104th minute before Sarr’s winner.
Shots were even at 10 apiece, while St. Francis took six corners compared to five for Lafayette. Seeber recorded one save on the evening and Erdman finished with five stops.
Next up for the Leopards is a trip to Albany on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. clash with the Great Danes.