It was an up and down week for the Fordham men’s soccer team.
In a rematch of last year’s Atlantic 10 Conference Championship final on Oct. 21, Fordham beat the University of Rhode Island for the second year in a row, winning 1-0.
However, the excitement did not last. Four days later, the Rams fell to the George Mason University Patriots 5-1 on Jack Coffey Field.
Fordham is now 6-6-3 on the year, and holds a promising 4-2 record in the A-10 Conference.
Against URI, the Bronx-based Rams displayed energy and intensity early in the first half.
The contest’s lone goal came in the 18th minute, when Jannik Loebe found Andres Penfold in the center for a shot. The redshirt senior beat URI’s goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm with a shot to the bottom left corner, putting Fordham ahead 1-0. It was Penfold’s second goal of the season.
The teams played evenly for the remainder of the first half, and nearly all of the second half. The best chance Fordham had to pull ahead 2-0 came in the 80th minute. Graduate student Gabe Stauber rocketed a shot across the net from where Leifhelm was standing. Though the sophomore keeper could not grab it, his defender blocked it on the goal line.
URI tried to bring on an extra attacker for the final 16 minutes of play to score a tying goal. Fordham keeper, freshman Rashid Nuhu, made two key saves in the final five minutes to secure the shutout win. He and his counterpart Leihelm each ended the game with three saves total.
After a very solid defensive effort at URI, the Rams could not stop George Mason’s line of attack this past Sunday, losing 5-1.
The Rams allowed three first half goals — an unprecedented amount for a defense that held the team together last season and that has been a strong point for the Rams this year.
George Mason started the scoring early, going up 1-0 just 19 minutes into the game.
The goal came on a flurry of shots in front of the Fordham goal. George Mason’s Henning Dirks started the rapid fire with a shot from the right side, which Nuhu blocked. His teammate Brice Colcombe headed the ball for another shot, but Fordham senior defender Ryan Cupolo responded with a header of his own. But the ball did not clear far enough out of the 18, and Dirks got another two shots. The first was blocked, but the second flew in for his third goal of the year.
It was a defensive lapse for the Rams, and it dictated the rest of the game.
George Mason scored another two goals in the next 10 minutes. In the 25th minute, Mason’s Matt Tucker centered the ball along the six-yard line toward Dirks. The sophomore from Munster, Germany, chipped a shot over Nuhu for his second goal of the game.
Less than four minutes later, Ahmed Ismail took an unbelievable shot from 35 yards out. The senior’s shot glanced off a Fordham player in flight, but ultimately ended up in the bottom left corner for a goal to give Mason a 3-0 lead going into the half.
With 10 minutes left in the half, a foul on junior Ole Sandnes went unnoticed by the referee. A George Mason player went in for a tackle with his cleats up, but play continued. Head Coach Jim McElderry was audible from the far sideline, clearly upset with the lack of a call.
McElderry, in a possible effort to rally his team, gave the referee a hard time about the call when checking Sandes’s condition on the field.
Luckily, the junior was uninjured and the score remained the same for the remainder of the half.
Following the break, the Rams showed signs of life by scoring a goal in the 56th minute. Freshman Janos Loebe took a left-footed corner kick, which a George Mason player sent airborne toward his own net. Sophomore Eric Ohlendorf got his head on the ball and sent it into the back of the net to close the gap to 3-1. It was Ohlendorf’s first collegiate goal.
The Patriots got the best of Fordham’s backline just a minute later when Conlan Kemmerer knocked Nuhu’s bobbled save-attempt into the goal for a 4-1 lead.
The Patriots closed out the scoring in the 76th minute. Kemmerer got his second goal of the day off a pass from Dirks, who was awarded with the assist on the play. Mason went ahead 5-1, and would maintain that lead for the rest of the game.
Fordham had six shots on goal and nine corner kicks that the team could have converted on. Also, George Mason committed 13 fouls that the Rams should have taken advantage of on the offensive end.
It was an interesting pair of games for the Rams as a whole. The team looked especially sharp in its road contest at URI, but fell extremely flat at home against George Mason.
The win at URI was a huge confidence booster for the Rams, as the team hopes to make big things happen at the A-10 Championship again this year. Coming off the loss to Saint Louis, the Rams were fired up and came away with the desired result — a hard fought, well-executed win.
The team’s performance against George Mason is of greater concern, however. The Patriots are now 5-7-3 on the year, but only 1-2-3 in A-10 play. This is a game that the Rams should have taken advantage of, as they will face a tough rival in the University of Dayton this weekend. The Flyers are 9-4-2 overall and 4-0-1 in the conference.
The Rams need to regroup in this week’s training sessions, particularly on the defensive end to see where the back four — who have been so solid all season — went wrong.
The Rams will take on Dayton on Halloween night, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. at Jack Coffey Field.