With only two games remaining on the schedule this season, the Fordham men’s soccer team has secured a spot in the 2016 Atlantic 10 Championship with a thrilling 2-1 victory in Saint Louis over the weekend.
Things got off to a slow start, as both teams were scoreless after the first half. Saint Louis struck first, when Joe Saad connected on his fourth goal of the season on a shot from the top left corner of the box in the 63rd minute.
Fordham equalized the score in the 85th minute, as the heavy pressure from the Rams back line led to a transition opportunity for Fordham. The ball was played into the box, where freshman forward Dantae Greer popped the ball up in the air on a header. Junior forward Cole Stevenson then headed the ball toward goal, which went off the crossbar and down over the goal line for his third goal of the season.
The score remained tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, leading to free soccer. Fordham controlled most of the possession as the game progressed into overtime and both teams failed to get a shot on net in the first period of overtime. That changed in the final minute of overtime as Fordham was awarded a corner kick on a failed clearance from Saint Louis.
Stevenson took the corner kick from left of goal, which was punched out to the top of the box. Janos Loebe then picked up the loose ball and blistered a shot into the lower right corner of goal for his team-leading sixth marker of the season. With the 2-1 overtime win, the Rams are now 4-0-2 in overtime games. In net, sophomore keeper Rashid Nuhu made two huge saves for the Rams to help secure the win.
Head coach Jim McElderry explained the secret behind the Rams’ late-game heroics: “We have been focused all year in our overtime games,” he said. “Our fitness, depth and overall concentration in these moments have been a strength for us. We are a confident group in overtime.”
He also explained the importance of the Loebe brothers, sophomore Janos and junior Jannik:
“Janos and Jannik have had good seasons for us. We have high expectations for them,” said McElderry. “Our entire team expects a lot from each other and the last month we have shown it is all about working hard for one another. If we do this, we have the talent to win any match.”
This was one of the biggest wins for this team because it came against conference leader Saint Louis on the road in a hostile environment,and helped clinch a playoff berth. McElderry was very pleased with his team’s performance.
“The boys played very well against St. Louis and it was a total team effort on the trip. We went down a goal, but did not panic. We continued to keep the ball and earn chances. I was very proud of the performance,” said McElderry.
“I have always said to this group, that if we play to our potential we can compete with any team in the country. St. Louis is a very good team with a lot of talent, so to have twice as many shots, more corners and eventually win the game at their home field was a good accomplishment. The challenge for us now is to keep that high standard for our next two regular season games and then onto the A-10’s.”
Fordham Men’s Soccer will next be in action on Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, as the Rams host Massachusetts for a 3:30 p.m. conference game. This is the rescheduled contest from Oct. 9.