RYAN IANNI — Staff Writer
Fifty seconds. That was how long it took for the men’s soccer team to open the scoring in their final home game of the season against conference rival Assumption on Oct. 25 en route to a 3-1 victory.
Seniors Andrew Esposito, Jeremy Tavares, Cedric Panzu and Paul Templeton were honored before kickoff as it would be their final regular season home game in an Owls uniform.
From the whistle, the ball was played to junior midfielder Yoni Feldman, who slotted to the streaking run of junior Matan Bik in the penalty box. Bik then sent in a low, fast cross that deflected heavily off an Assumption defender into the net for the stunningly-fast opening goal.
“Sometimes you get an early goal,” said head coach Tom Lang, “you think it’s going to be easy and you forget that there’s still 89 minutes left to play in the game.”
These words would ring true for Southern as the teams traded shots and possession over the next 23 minutes, without either team being able to put the ball in the net.
With the Owls dropping off their pressure after the fast start, Assumption was able to capitalize in the 24th minute as junior forward Guga Pereira won the ball in SCSU’s half and chipped the ball over the defense to the sprinting forward, Troy Lamagna.
Lamagna, a Connecticut native, took down the pass and sent a perfect chip shot over Esposito’s outstretched arms and into the net for the tying goal.
It was more of the same after the goal came, with both teams possessing the ball well, but not making any positive progress as the half ended 1-1.
“It was a frustrating game for us to be honest,” said junior midfielder Luke Perry. “They were playing quite compact and tight and at times we forced it too much in the first half.”
The second half witnessed the game open up, especially for Southern, as they began to penetrate the Greyhound’s defense more often.
A hard tackle in the 59th minute by Max Roche of Assumption on Templeton resulted in a yellow-card.
Six minutes later, junior midfielder Mario Costa made a run into the Greyhound box and was hacked down; the referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot for Southern.
Up stepped the captain, Templeton, who set the ball down and took three quick steps after the whistle blew, curling the ball to the right side of the net to restore the lead to 2-1. The goal was Templeton’s team-leading sixth goal and third PK of the year.
“I’m always comfortable from 12 yards,” said Templeton. “I’m always ready to slot them away.”
Just nine minutes later, the Greyhound’s fate was sealed, as Perry was determined to win the ball back at the top of the Assumption. He stole it from the defender, took a step and curled a left-footed shot that the sprawling keeper, Matt Wrenn, couldn’t even touch.
“It’s always nice to score,” said Perry, “but the important thing is three points.”
Southern then tightened up the defense for the remaining 15 minutes to secure the 3-1 victory, improved to a 7-7-1 overall record and a 6-5-1 conference record, which secures them a tournament position.
“Just keep winning,” said Lang of the imminent postseason. “We want to win the next one and then see where we finish and try to make a run in the tournament and be successful there.”
The men’s soccer team will take on UMass-Lowell this week in the first round of the NE-10 tournament. Date has yet to determinded by the conference.