RPI men’s soccer chalked up two more wins this weekend to improve to a record of 5-0. The undefeated start is the Engineer’s best since 2008.
Men’s soccer played its first game of the four-team tournament on Friday against Stockton. The game started out slowly for both teams and the first shot on goal didn’t occur until 15:33 in the first half from the leg of RPI sophomore midfielder Steven Collins. The shot was saved by Stockton goalie Bobby Varga. Later, in the 35th minute, Stockton University forward Chimaobi Ikwuagwu fired a shot on the Rensselaer goal, but sophomore goalie Ryan Nealon made a key save to keep it scoreless. Then, two minutes later, a second shot by Ikwuagwu careened off the post.
A foul on RPI inside the penalty area in the 40th minute allowed Stockton a penalty kick. Stockton back Clevon McPherson took advantage, drilling the ball past Nealon to give the Ospreys a 1-0 lead.
In the 58th minute, Rensselaer’s luck changed for the better when McPherson was given a red card and sent off for a violent tackle. Then, freshman midfielder Trevor McCaughey curled the subsequent free kick into the back of the Stockton net to tie the score at one. Later, Collins booted a corner kick into the Stockton box and senior back Paul Lentine headed the ball off of a defender into the Stockton net. The goal gave Rensselaer the lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Despite being down a man, Stockton managed a late rally that included six shots and two corner kicks. This time Nealon stood firm, sending back both shots that went his way and securing the win for RPI.
The next day, the Engineers faced off against William Paterson University in the winner’s matchup of the tournament. In the 14th minute, Lentine looped a corner kick toward the Paterson goal and junior back Andrew Gondek thumped a header into the net to put the Engineers up one early.
Later, in the 33rd minute, Paterson earned a penalty kick. Nealon blocked the would-be equalizer, though, propelling the Engineers into halftime with a 1-0 edge.
Only 23 seconds into the second half, Paterson forward Jason Padilla launched a shot on Nealon, who once again preserved the lead. The shot by Padilla would be Paterson’s last on goal in the contest. The Engineers subsequently padded their lead in the 73rd minute when junior midfielder Devon Baughen sprinted ahead of the Paterson defense and kicked it past Pioneers goalie Mike Villegas.
The game ended in a 2-0 shutout for the Engineers, the fourth time they have held their opponent scoreless this season. Next up for undefeated Rensselaer is a matchup with 3-1-1 Oneonta, Wednesday night at East Campus Stadium, and a second home game on Saturday against Potsdam.