Fordham Men’s Soccer Suffers Heartbreaking Defeat to Marshall

The Rams lost in overtime in the round of 32 teams to put an end to their undefeated campaign

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COURTESY OF FORDHAM ATHLETICS

Men’s soccer suffered a heartbreaking loss to Marshall after winning the A10 Championship a few weeks ago.

By CHRIS MURRAY

Fordham men’s soccer lost to the 10th-ranked Marshall University (MU) Herd, 2-1, on Sunday, May 2, capping off a season that can only be considered successful. The Rams entered the match as the 23rd-ranked team in the nation but could not extend their unbeaten streak any further. The loss comes just weeks after Fordham raised the Atlantic 10 (A10) Championship trophy and signifies the disappointing end to an otherwise flawless season. 

The Rams finish the season with a 7-1-2 record. Marshall represented the toughest opponent of the season for Fordham, as none of their previous opponents had cracked the top 25 squads in the nation. Despite this, the Herd required six minutes and 45 seconds of overtime to take down the persistent Rams. 

The game started off slowly for both teams, with neither offense able to find their footing. The first shot on goal came just prior to the 25-minute mark in the first half. Coincidentally, it found the back of the Rams’ net, and the Herd was on the board after a point-blank shot from forward Milo Yosef, MU ’23. 

Rogers buried the ball past Marshall keeper Oliver Semmle, MU ’22, in the 42nd minute to even the score at 1-1 just before the halftime break.

Despite falling behind, the Rams were able to keep the pressure on Marshall. After two shots and a corner kick for Fordham, a long ball by Jack Sluys, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill ’22, took a deflection before finding the foot of Max Rogers, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’24. Rogers buried the ball past Marshall keeper Oliver Semmle, MU ’22, in the 42nd minute to even the score at 1-1 just before the halftime break.

The match likely could have ended much sooner than it did if the standout goalkeeper and captain Josh Levine, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences ’21, had not channeled all the skills that made him a top-tier goalie in the A10 this past season. Levine was tested constantly in the second half. Marshall managed to take eight shots toward the net in the second period, with three of them requiring intervention by Levine. 

Meanwhile, the Fordham offense stalled in the second half. In the first half, the Rams had essentially traded possessions with the Herd and were able to hang around with the overpowering Marshall attack. In the second period, however, Fordham could only muster three total shots. 

The most vital sequence of the second half occurred in the 89th minute. Marshall launched a counterattack into Fordham’s defensive zone after a failed free kick from the Rams. A Herd cross was headed away from the net by a Fordham defender. The ball ended up at the feet of Conference USA Player of the Year Vitor Dias, MU ’22, at the top of the box. 

Dias promptly fired a shot through several players toward the net with just 22 seconds remaining in the match. Levine smothered the bouncing attempt to preserve an overtime period for the Rams. 

Things did not get easier in extra time for Fordham. Despite some solid chances for the Rams, Marshall was able to maintain possession in Fordham’s zone for much of the final segment of the contest. 

Levine made another crucial save for the Rams in the 91st minute, barely grazing a threatening cross from the Herd to deflect the ball out of harm’s way. The save, Levine’s sixth of the match, preserved the tie and delayed the final outcome of the competition. 

Fordham posted its first undefeated campaign in conference play since they joined the A10 in 1995.

After persistent pressure by the Herd, the dam burst. Defender Gabriel Alves, MU ’24, sent a perfect through ball into the left corner, finding Jamil Roberts, MU ’21. Roberts subsequently sent a low cross through the box, uncontested, and found the foot of Yosef, who connected on a one-timer from point-blank range to secure victory for the Herd.

Although Fordham players lamented the outcome of the match while the Marshall players celebrated their win, the Rams accomplished great things in their pandemic-shortened season. Fordham posted its first undefeated campaign in conference play since they joined the A10 in 1995. Fordham also won its fourth A10 Championship before competing for a full 90 minutes against a top-tier Marshall squad. 

Things are likely looking up for the Fordham team. After leading the Rams to the A10 Championship semifinals in his debut season, Head Coach Carlo Acquista now has an A10 Championship and NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament appearance under his belt. This upward trend is certainly promising, especially given the adversity the team faced during the season.

Bittersweetness follows the conclusion of any season. It’s almost as if the end of a successful season, overwhelmed by the nearness of a national championship, can be more crushing than that of a failed season. The accomplishments of the past season for the men’s soccer team, however, cannot be ignored and the future is bright for the up-and-coming Rams.