The Rensselaer men’s soccer team has continued its undefeated streak with a win and a tie in the 2009 Valiant Classic, hosted by Manhattanville University in Purchase, N.Y. The Engineers faced off against the New York University Violets on Friday, winning the match 3-0 before taking the Drew University Rangers to two overtimes in Saturday’s 0-0 draw. In addition, the Engineers blanked the SUNY Oneonta Red Dragons in last night’s game by a score of 3-0. The two wins and tie place RPI 4-0-1 overall, while NYU dropped to 1-3-0 on the year, and Drew remains winless—and goal-less—with a record of 0-1-4.
Leading the Engineers on a rain-soaked Friday afternoon was senior forward Sean Fleury, who netted two goals—including the game winner. Fleury’s first goal of the game came just over six minutes into the first half. Sophomore Brad Shelofsky took a free kick from 35 yards out that found Fleury inside the six-yard box, who then was able to sneak the ball inside the left post past NYU senior keeper Mark Urbanski.
All it took was another six minutes for Fleury to get on the board again, in a cross-field play that caught the members of the Violets squad off-guard. Engineers junior goalkeep Alex Penny punted the ball nearly the entire length of the field from the inside box over to the foot of Fleury, who was able to quickly chip the ball over a charging Urbanski for the 2-0 lead. “Our energy level was good at the start of this match, and resulted in the two goals,” said Head Coach Adam Clinton. “We got on them quick, and then settled into the game.”
Although the Violets held possession advantage for the final 15 minutes of the half, NYU was unable to cut the deficit as the Engineers continued on with their third consecutive shutout of the season. “They really took it to us for about 15 minutes or so at the end of the half, and it took away that spark, but we came back and the second half was ours,” said Clinton.
Nearly 20 minutes into the second half, senior Michael Long almost increased the score to 3-0 with a shot to the left post off a free kick from Fleury, although Urbanski was able to make a diving save in time to hold off the inevitable for a little longer. With eight minutes left in the game, Long made a corner kick that connected with the head of fellow senior Lincoln Field, who was able to deflect the ball from the six-yard box to the back of the net for his third tally of the season.
Violets sophomore Matt Newman made a last minute attempt at a goal, but was denied by Penny to preserve the shutout.
The next day, the Engineers faced Drew University to close out the tournament. Penny once again barred any balls from crossing into his net with a double-overtime 0-0 draw.
One of the best opportunities of the day came of a penalty kick by Field. However, junior keeper Jeff Rogers for the Rangers was able to make the save, keeping the game at a scoreless time. Although Rensselaer held an 11-7 advantage in shots, Drew had a slight advantage in corner kicks, 9-8, and neither team was able to convert on chances in either the 90-minute regulation or the two 10-minute overtime sessions, keeping RPI’s unbeaten streak at four. “We had about six or seven golden opportunities that we couldn’t take advantage of against Drew. We had a missed penalty kick, and then two corner kicks with about 30 seconds left in the game,” explained Clinton. “We deserved to win that game, but just couldn’t score.” Clinton went on to say that a win would have meant a national-ranking for the team.
Field led the Engineers with a game-high three shots, while three other players—Fleury, senior Kevin Swift, and junior Bryce Hutchinson—each had two.
“We didn’t quite have the energy needed to keep up with Drew’s style of play on Saturday. Their style has high energy which is hard to play against at the beginning of a match,” said Clinton.
Last night, the Engineers continued on their unbeaten streak, as they took down the previously undefeated Red Dragons, by a score of 3-0.
Following a great weekend performance, Penny was selected as the Liberty League Defensive Performer of the Week. In 200 minutes of action, he stopped all six shots faced, as well as collecting an assist in the game against NYU. This is Penny’s second-straight Liberty League honor, as he has not allowed a goal in his last 380 minutes of play.
This weekend, the Engineers return home with a 3 pm game against Ithaca College, on Renwyck Field. Fan are encouraged to stick around after Saturday’s football game to watch the Engineers take on the Bombers. Rensselaer looks to avenge last year’s match, in which RPI fell 1-0 to Ithaca, in its final game before league play begins. “The rest of the season will be very difficult for us, and we won’t have a single easy game. Saturday’s match against Ithaca will be no different,” said Clinton.