Today: Apr 14, 2024

Senior night for men’s soccer included red cards and suspensions


Darryl Hill

Special to the Southern News

Emotions soared high on senior night for the men’s soccer team against the Warriors from Merrimack as the Owls escaped with a 3-2 victory in the regular season finale.

With 21:27 remaining in regulation, Merrimack’s Kevin Joyce received a red card and was ejected from the game after being in a scuffle with senior Victor Hernandez.

“We had a chance in front of the goal and there was a little bit of a scramble, and our player got tangled up with their player, and the play was over and their goalkeeper punched our player in the back of the head,” said Coach Tom Lang. ”The referee didn’t see it but the linesman did, and I give him credit for making the call.”

The Owls were trailing 2-1 and the foul set up a penalty kick for junior captain Paul Templeton. The shot was ripped to the right side and deflected off the hands of Mattias Drummond and found the back of the net to knot the game at two.

The Owls had already secured a spot in the NE-10 tournament, and a win for the Warriors would have helped Merrimack lock a spot in postseason play.

“This game for them meant everything; if they would have won they could have been in the tournament, so it meant everything,” said Hernandez. “For us, we were already in, but we don’t like to lose.”

Prior to the game, midfielder Hernandez, forward Harry Appiah and goalkeeper Chris Rybacki were honored during Senior Night ceremonies.

“It’s hard to think about it being my last regular season game,” said Victor Hernandez. “Time just flew by, and it felt a little bit weird because it wasn’t just another game.”

Appiah received a pass from midfield and dribbled down the left side towards the corner where he was able to beat a defender and cross it. The ball trickled through many defenders and landed on the boot of Hernandez, who was able to settle it and take a shot that found the left corner of the net. With 17:05 left, the goal put Southern up 3-2.

“Things happen in a game,” said Hernandez, “and when you get in that moment with an assist, it’s great, and then you score a goal. There is nothing better than that.”

Merrimack made the first strike just seven minutes into the game. A corner kick off the foot of Robbie Sabbadoz turned into a loose ball in front of the net. It finally found the head of Franklin Pena to put the Warriors up 1-0.

“We talked getting off to a good start, and I knew it was going to be a very emotional game for Merrimack because they needed a win to get into the conference tournament,” said Lang. “I felt that we gave away a bad goal, but we kept our composure, and we had our chances but we didn’t put them away. We managed to tie it up coming into halftime and we started getting on top of them and getting the better of things.”

Tension began to rise as each second vanished off the clock. The game became more physical and the referee did not let anything slide as he handed out three yellow cards as well as three red cards.

“I’m just disappointed in our lack of composure, that’s the thing at the end of the game that bothered me,” said Lang.

After time had expired there was a bench-clearing scuffle in which words were exchanged and punches were thrown. Templeton received the final red card, and will now have to sit out the first conference tournament game against Stonehill.

“When games get tight going into playoffs we have to maintain our composure a little bit better, but at the same point in time I know players have to protect themselves,” said Lang. “We let that part of the emotional game get the better of us, and I also think our opponents did as well.”

With the Owls’ victory, the team improved to 12-2-2 overall and 9-2-2 in the NE-10.

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