Men’s Soccer Earns First-Ever NCAA Victory in Overtime

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Men’s Soccer Earns First-Ever NCAA Victory in Overtime

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By Alvin Halimwidjaya


On Thursday, Nov. 16, the Fordham men’s soccer team played their biggest game of the season as they hosted the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers at Jack Coffey Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite going down early, the Rams rallied back to win 3-2 in overtime for Fordham’s first NCAA win in program history.
With history on the line, the team drew their biggest crowd of the season, with a sizable section of the bleachers filled with students huddled in blankets to combat the cold.

“I want to thank every single [person] who showed up and supported us throughout the game! You guys were amazing!” sophomore defender Joergen Oland said.

Despite the increased attendance, Fordham stumbled out of the gate, with St. Francis scoring a goal in the 9th minute off a cross to Leo Folla, bringing the tally to 1-0 in favor of the Terriers. With a deficit to overcome from the start, Fordham struggled in the first half with the Terriers’ defense.

“St Francis is a good team, and I think they are the best team we have met this year in terms of defensive structure,” Oland said. “They were hard to break down, but we knew that they would get tired if we just kept playing the ball around them.”

The Rams finally broke through in the 72nd minute with a beautiful strike from distance by senior forward Jannik Loebe, burying a 35-yard shot in the top right corner of the net for his seventh goal of the season. However, St. Francis Brooklyn immediately fired back in response with a goal 25 seconds after with a Nadim Saqui chip over junior goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu. However, Fordham remained on the attack despite being down 2-1.

“We have a very composed group so all the guys knew that the mentality was to get another goal and get the game to overtime,” senior defender Matthew Lewis said. “Conceding that second goal was super tough but at the end of the day the experience this group has prevailed.”

In the 81st minute, Rashid Nuhu sent a soaring kick into the box from midfield off a set piece to Lewis, who headed in the equalizer to tie the game up at 2-2, sending the Fordham fans into a frenzy.

“Scoring that goal really felt great,” Lewis said. “It was a big moment in the game and running in front of the crowd was a unbelievable moment that I’ll keep for the rest of my life. A great experience to have at home with the team.”

After a tense 10 minutes with both teams settling back on defense, the game went to overtime with the score deadlocked at 2-2.

“Heading into overtime, I was confident that we were going to win,” Oland said, and the sophomore defender delivered. Only five minutes into the extra period, senior defender Vincenzo Zuccala cleared the ball, where it fell to sophomore forward Connor DeFilippis. Defilippis headed the ball to Oland, who slipped past his defender and flicked it past the St. Francis Brooklyn keeper for the decisive goal. Fordham fans stormed the field in celebration as the entire team gathered around Oland after his game-winner.

“Scoring the game winner in OT was absolutely crazy,” Oland said. “It is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life!”

With this win, the Rams now look to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and their next opponent in #11-ranked Virginia.

“We know the game Sunday is going to be super tough but these are the moments programs like ours live for,” Lewis said. “We get a chance to beat a top school in a tournament game. It’s gonna take a lot of work but if we can defend hard and take advantage of our opportunities we will win this game.”

“We know that UVA is a good team, but so are we,” Oland added. “The pressure is on them, and we are coming to Virginia with low shoulders, ready to enjoy another game together.”

Fordham’s next game will come on Sunday, Nov. 19, as they face Virginia in Charlottesville at 5 p.m.