Men’s Soccer Falls Short in Quarterfinals of A-10 Tournament

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Men’s Soccer Falls Short in Quarterfinals of A-10 Tournament

Fordham's men's soccer team will not be going back to the NCAA Tournament after its 2-0 loss to Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament (Julia Comerford/Fordham Ram).

Fordham's men's soccer team will not be going back to the NCAA Tournament after its 2-0 loss to Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament (Julia Comerford/Fordham Ram).

Fordham's men's soccer team will not be going back to the NCAA Tournament after its 2-0 loss to Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament (Julia Comerford/Fordham Ram).

Fordham's men's soccer team will not be going back to the NCAA Tournament after its 2-0 loss to Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament (Julia Comerford/Fordham Ram).

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By Andrew Posadas

Fordham Men’s Soccer suffered a 2-0 defeat in the A-10 tournament quarterfinals against Rhode Island, marking their earliest conference tournament exit in five years. It also will end any chance of another appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

The 2018 Atlantic-10 Championship quarterfinals kicked off on Sunday afternoon, with eight teams vying to advance onto St. Louis for a spot in the semifinals. Fordham made the short bus ride to Kingston for a postseason edition of the annual “Battle of the Rams”.

Both Ram teams sported impressive streaks in A-10 Championship tournament play. Fordham and Rhode Island have advanced to at least the semifinals four years in a row. In those four years, these teams have met two times, with Fordham winning twice.

From the get-go, each squad looked to set a physical tone. Seven fouls were called in the first 25 minutes, with neither team backing down. Sophomore Sameer Fathazada and senior Janos Loebe had Fordham’s first two shots on goal, in the eighth and 20th minutes, respectively, but URI keeper Roger Penske kept the Fordham Rams off the board.

Even with Fordham’s auspicious start, Rhode Island would strike first in the 26th minute as a defensive lapse forced senior Rashid Nuhu out of goal, leaving URI with a shot into the open net.

Down 1-0, Fordham amped up its pressure on both sides of the pitch. Defensively, Fordham did not allow URI another shot in the half. Offensively, Fordham ripped seven more shots, four on goal, but to no avail. In total, Fordham had six shots on goal in the first half, but nothing to show for it.
Talking about his team in the first 45 minutes, head coach Jim McElderry felt they generated quality chances while enjoying control of possession, adding that all that remained was finishing in the final third.

“Scoring is not easy, and sometimes in soccer, you can dominate the possession but still not be winning on the score sheet,” he said.

The beginning of the second half was eerily similar to that of the first. Again, the first 25 minutes saw Fordham and Rhode Island trade shots and corner kicks. Another goal seemed inevitable, either resulting in an equalizer to level the score or a potential commanding 2-0 lead.

After a foul on Fordham, Rhode Island captured that goal on a set piece header in the 71st minute. The 2-0 score held into the end of regulation, effectively punching URI’s ticket to St. Louis and concluding Fordham’s season early.

The loss finishes the Fordham Rams’ overall season at 8-5-4. McElderry believes there were both great wins and some disappointing losses. Nevertheless, he declared this season successful, due in large part to their winning record and a fifth consecutive A-10 tournament appearance.

With the season now over, the team will officially say goodbye to one of the best senior classes in program history. McElderry knows it will take hard work to replace the contribution of players like Loebe, Nuhu and graduate student Vincenzo Zuccala.

“The past four years, they have helped us to new heights as a program,” he said. “I again want to thank our senior class. They will be greatly missed, but always remembered as top players and people.”