Men’s Soccer Season Cut Short at Semifinals

Goalkeeper+Konstantin+Weis%2C+GGSB+%E2%80%9920%2C+saved+a+penalty+to+keep+the+Rams+in+the+quarterfinal+match+against+SLU.

PHOTO COURTESY OF FORDHAM SPORTS INFO

Goalkeeper Konstantin Weis, GGSB ’20, saved a penalty to keep the Rams in the quarterfinal match against SLU.

By DIERDRE REED, Staff Writer

Fordham men’s soccer ended their relatively successful season on a devastating note. After going as far as the conference semifinals, they lost in the longest Atlantic-10 (A10) conference championship penalty shootout on record to top-seed University of Rhode Island (URI).

The season started with the appointment of Carlos Acquista as head coach. Acquista had previously worked as a coach for St. Francis College and Adelphi University and most recently as a scout for the New York Red Bulls.

In his first season with the Rams, Acquista’s team accrued a 7-10-3 record and an overall win percentage of 0.425. Except for a five-goal thrashing of Holy Cross, Fordham struggled in matches outside of their conference.

On the other hand, the Rams’ conference record, 5-2-1 (with a win percentage of 0.688), shows that they saved their best performances for the most important moments. Fordham opened their 2019 A10 conference bid with a series of thrilling double-overtime wins over La Salle and St. Bonaventure. In the latter, Luca Fava, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’21, saved the day with only four seconds left on the clock.

Fordham experienced their first conference loss against last year’s A10 champions URI, despite an early goal from Johannes Pieles, FCRH ’20. A stunning free kick from Sameer Fathazada, FCRH ’21, against the University of Massachusetts Amherst allowed the Rams to gain back some ground after the loss.

However, Fordham wasn’t able to turn this victory into a winning streak. Following a disappointing loss to St. Joseph’s College, in which Fordham had a goal disallowed, and a scoreless draw to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the Rams were in a dangerous position regarding the conference championship.

Two late victories in the regular season, one over George Mason University and the other over St. Louis University (SLU), secured Fordham the fifth seed in the A10 championship.

In the quarterfinals, goalkeepers Konstantin Weis, Gabelli Graduate School of Business (GGSB) ’20, and Patrick Schulte, SLU ’23, both had excellent performances, saving a penalty each to keep their respective side in the match. It was a scrappy 87th-minute winner from Ricupati, Fordham’s top scorer (six goals), that sent Fordham into the conference semifinals, set to be played on home turf, at Jack Coffey Field.

As the fifth seed, Fordham had to play first-seeded URI, who had previously beat the Rams decisively, in the semifinals. Despite losing Joergen Oland, FCRH ’20, the A10 Defensive Player of the Year, to injury, Fordham kept a solid backline. They held URI, who had previously put seven goals past Davidson in the quarterfinals, to a 0-0 draw. Even with double overtime, neither side was able to find the back of the net, and thus the dreaded penalty shootout was required.

Fordham fans made their voices heard during the shootout, cheering on the heroic performance put on by the Rams and especially by Weis, who saved two penalties. Unfortunately, after each side had taken an unprecedented nine shots, URI emerged victorious, a crushing blow for the Rams. URI went on to beat third-seeded Dayton University in the final to win their second A10 championship in a row.

This marks the final season for graduating FCRH seniors Bart Dziedzic, Nicholas Meyer, Joergen Oland and Johannes Pieles, as well as graduate students Filippo Ricupati, Konstantin Weis and Tomer Zloczower.

PHOTO COURTESY OF FORDHAM SPORTS INFO
Kristian Shkreli, FCRH ’22, looks to score against URI in the semifinals.