Men’s Soccer Strong in Final Non-Conference Affair
EASTON, Pa. – Matching up against the seventh-ranked scoring offense in the nation, the Lafayette men’s soccer team put together an excellent defensive performance on Wednesday evening at Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium. The Leopards shut out Albany through the first 90 minutes before surrendering the deciding tally in the fifth minute of overtime.
“I’m proud of the whole group. They executed what we set out to do and slowed them down,” head coach Dennis Bohn said. “We definitely showed a defensive intensity that I think we’ve been lacking a little so far this year.”
Senior captain Christian Moyse led a defensive unit that allowed 11 shots, but just three on goal on the night. Other commendations for their efforts in the back line are deserved by junior Joe DeStefano, freshman Andrew Venezia and sophomore Diego Gomera-Tavarez. Additionally, senior goalkeeper Brian Ehrlich came up with two big saves to keep the Great Danes off the scoreboard.
“Everyone really stuck to the task. Like coach said, we had a gameplan that we wanted to execute and that’s what we did,” Moyse added. “This is a big step for our team. We were down a little to start the season, but this is really a springboard and a confidence booster. Now that it’s Patriot League play, we’ll come out guns blazing.”
The first half of action didn’t have much in it, aside from an initial shot from freshman Martin Ssessanga in the third minute that was saved just outside the left post. Ehrlich branded his mark on the contest on either side of the halftime intermission, making two outstanding point-blank saves in the 39th and 55th minutes to keep the Leopards in it.
Lafayette’s best chances at a winner came over the next 22 minutes. First, in the 66th, a free kick up the middle of the field was mishandled by Albany keeper Danny Vitiello, trickling to his left, where sophomore Adam Bramson tried to send a cross back in to a cutting DeStefano. DeStefano’s sliding effort came up just short as the cross headed toward the back left post and was cleared out of danger by an Albany defender.
Eleven minutes later came the best opportunity for the Maroon and White off the head of sophomore Evan Vare. Working down the right side, classmate Chris Gomez sent an out-swinging cross into the middle of the box, where Vare skied and got a head on it, knocking it down and toward the left side of goal. His effort may have taken an Albany deflection, but regardless, was saved onto the post by Vitiello and cleared out of harm’s way.
The eventual game-winner came off a corner for Albany that initially went all the way through the box and set up Afonso Pinhiero at the top left corner. Pinheiro sent a hard cross back into a mix of players, connecting with Adam Malekos, whose hit was of the seeing-eye variety, bouncing off the right post and getting the right carom to roll over the goal line to win it.
Although Lafayette takes a 0-7 mark into conference action, the Leopards are starting to get healthier and may surprise in the coming weeks. The first step in that process takes place on Saturday when the Maroon and White host Bucknell at Oaks Stadium for a 1 p.m. tilt.