RYAN IANNI — Staff Writer
Late-game scoring has been a staple for Owls soccer in recent years, and the trend was continued after Luke Perry used his head, leading the Owls to a 1-0 overtime victory against Northeast-10 conference foe UMass Lowell.
“I have to give the guys on the field an awful lot of credit,” said SCSU head coach Tom Lang. “They worked very hard for it. It wasn’t always the best soccer in the world, but at the same point in time, it was about getting a result today, and we were fortunate enough to do that.”
Perry’s header goal came in the 99th minute, off an assist from junior Mario Costa.
The Saturday afternoon game started off with the Riverhawks applying most of the attacking pressure on Southern’s defense.
In the ninth minute of play, a through ball to Lowell midfielder Daniel Galvin found him at the top of the box. SCSU goalie Andrew Esposito was caught out of position, presenting Galvin with a chance to score; his shot just scraped by the far side of the post for a goal kick.
The Riverhawks had another scoring opportunity in the 20th minute, as freshman forward Hormero Morais carved out some space in the box and ripped a shot. Esposito was there to make the save for the Owls, and keep the game scoreless.
Southern did not have any true scoring attempts until the 44th minute. Quick, one-touch passing put the ball at the feet of Yoni Feldman, allowing him to get off a shot, which was tipped out for a corner by Lowell goalie Connor Askins.
One minute later, Owls captain Paul Templeton cut to his right at the top of the box and had another open shot, which was again saved.
“I think we gave them a bit too much respect at times,” said Templeton. “Coach [Lang] asked us to step up the game and put them under more pressure, which we did.”
The second half began as the first had ended, with another Feldman shot saved.
Lowell then had three successive shots on Esposito’s net, which were either saved or knocked away for corner kicks. A shot by sophomore forward Gideon Gyasi in the 53rd minute was to be the Riverhawk’s last attempt to score for the rest of the game.
“The boys showed great spirit today,” said junior midfielder Perry. “Great work ethic, and we just had to push forward.”
Twenty-two minutes later, Templeton was sent through down the right flank in a one-on-one opportunity with Askins. Instead of trying to shoot from the tight angle, Templeton dug his foot under the ball to go for the chip over the keeper.
However, there was too much power put behind the ball, as the shot sailed over the crossbar for a goal kick.
Four minutes later is where the individual brilliance of some of the Owls players came out. Feldman rounded one player, and then played a no-look pass to substitute forward Julian Myers. Myers received the ball on the left flank and beat his defender to burst into the box, only to have the ball cleared.
Three minutes from full time constant pressure resulted in a pass to Templeton, who looked to have time enough to set his shot and score, but missed just wide, forcing overtime.
Southern began with dominant possession, but took no shots for the first eight minutes of overtime. A hard tackle in the 97th minute by Mario Costa resulted in a yellow card.
Everyone soon forgot that however just two minutes later. Hurriedly, Costa sent in an inch-perfect cross into the box, which found the unmarked Perry, who connected with the ball on a header and blasted it in for the 1-0 victory.
“We were pushing the last 10 minutes,” said Perry. “We knew the goal would come, we just had to be patient.”
Southern now move to a 6-7-1 record and 5-5-1 in the conference and look to continue this trend Tuesday against Assumption.
The victory also marked Esposito’s first shutout since Sept. 24 and his fourth of the season.
“I thought we defended better than we have in previous games,” said Lang. “I think we gave away too much respect to the other team, allowing them to have too much of the ball at times. But when we got to the overtime we said we would step up the pressure more and close them down, and fortunately it resulted in a goal.”