Ricupati Lifts Rams Over Saint Louis in A-10 Quarterfinal

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Ricupati Lifts Rams Over Saint Louis in A-10 Quarterfinal

Andrew Posadas, Assistant Sports Editor

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Defeating a conference rival on the road is certainly no easy task. Having to do it twice in a week’s span, with one of those games being an A-10 quarterfinal match seemed even more arduous for head coach Carlo Acquista and Fordham Men’s Soccer against Saint Louis University.

Yet, a pivotal turnover from the Saint Louis defense led to Fordham’s lone goal of the contest from graduate student forward Filippo Ricupati as the Rams beat the Billikens 1–0 on Saturday afternoon.

Fordham went into Saturday’s quarterfinal match having secured its sixth straight appearance in the A-10 Championship. Even with first-year coach Acquista, expectations for the Rams were still lofty as the program looked to win its third A-10 Crown in the last six years. Not to mention that Fordham had made it to the semifinals in four of the previous five tournaments under previous head coach Jim McElderry.

Both teams each had excellent chances to get in the scoring column early on in the first half. In the fourth minute, Billikens midfielder John Klein made a great run towards the 18-yard box, but Fordham graduate student goalkeeper Konstantin Weis came off of his line to challenge Klein, keeping Saint Louis from taking the lead. Weis finished with four saves in the first half, thwarting the offensive onslaught from the home team.

Just four minutes after Saint Louis’ chance to score, Fordham was awarded a penalty kick after junior forward Sameer Fathazada was fouled inside the 18-yard box. Senior captain and defender Joergen Oland stepped up to take the kick but ultimately would be denied by Billikens goalkeeper Patrick Schulte. Schulte and Weis matched each other with big saves, and the two squads went into halftime scoreless with just 45 minutes separating them from a trip to the semifinals.

Fordham’s tenacious defense started the second half on its heels, and, just 30 seconds in, the Rams committed a foul inside the 18-yard box to give Saint Louis its own opportunity to take the lead via a penalty kick.

Luckily, the Rams were in the midst of perhaps the best match performance of Weis’ short career with Fordham. Weis jumped to his left, stopping midfielder Devin Boyce’s shot and preserving his clean sheet for the match.

The match continued back and forth until the biggest mistake was made by the home team with just minutes remaining in regulation. In the 87th minute, a Saint Louis defender attempted to play the ball back to Schulte to reset possession.

However, a nonchalant pass was then intercepted by the aforementioned Ricupati, who made the Billikens pay for their costly error by putting it past Schulte and into the back of the net.

It was Ricupati’s sixth goal this season, which leads the team, and was the difference in a tightly contested matchup that could have gone in favor of either squad. In the biggest match to date this year, Fordham received stellar performances from two of its graduate students in Weis and Ricupati. Now, the Rams win moves them to 7–10–2 on the season. More importantly, it secures a berth in Fordham’s fifth semifinal match in the last six tournaments.

Fordham Men’s Soccer is back in action this upcoming Friday for an A-10 semifinal match against the University of Rhode Island. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and can be seen exclusively on ESPN+.