Men’s soccer faced off against Rochester Institute of Technology in their third league game of the season this past Saturday. The Engineers, with an 8-0-2 record going into the game, were trying to keep their undefeated streak going against what was expected to have been an easy match against the 3–6 RIT Tigers.
From the beginning it was clear that this would be an emotional game. Both teams continuously fought hard, but no side was able to take the upper hand. Senior midfielder Devon Baughen and sophomore Dan Graybill worked the left side of the field throughout the game, performing give-and-gos and overlapping runs, allowing Graybill to work his way past defenders and make crosses into the box. Unfortunately, it seemed like every time RPI made a cross, the Tigers were the first ones there, heading or volleying the ball safely away from the goal.
The lack of progress showed in senior captain Nathaniel Gundersen. Multiple times his attempted shots were blocked by RIT. He struck the ball with such a force that the ricocheting ball sometimes flew into the stands, and even managed to break the corner flag in half after a failed cross attempt.
In the last minutes of the first half, freshman forward Evan Schulze attempted to put the Engineers ahead. He managed to beat the Tigers in a two versus one, allowing him to make a break for the goal. His shot did not make it to the back of the net, and RPI was unable to follow up with the rebound before a foul by the Engineers allowed RIT to clear the box. The first half ended 0-0 with red, exhausted faces on both sides.
Five minutes into the second half, both teams received yellow cards. Both had been very physical, to the point of multiple fouls each. It was clear that the referee wanted to remain in control of the game, but that was not the case.
Twenty minutes later, senior defender Paul Lentine received the only red card of the game, forcing the Engineers to play down a player for the remainder.
Despite this, Gundersen continued to work hard, megging an RIT defender, and allowing senior forward Matt Carberry to make a cross inside RIT’s goal box. Fortune was still not on their side as RIT was able to clear the ball away.
While both teams fought with adrenaline-fueled rage, and RPI had not one, but two consecutive shots on goal bounce off the crossbar, the second half ended 0-0 and the teams went into overtime.
The game was over for the Engineers when the Tigers received a penalty kick in the 96th minute of play. Sophomore goalie Ryan Nealon was unable to save the shot that went low in the right corner. The game ended 0–1, and it was the Engineers’ first defeat of the season.