Men’s Soccer Defeats La Salle 2-1 in A10 Kickoff

Rams come from behind, starting conference play in style



Matt Sloan, GSAS ’22, played an integral part for the team, with his throw-in leading to Fordham’s game-tying goal in the 36th minute.


The Fordham men’s soccer team beat the La Salle University (LSU) Explorers 2-1 on Saturday, Sept. 18. The victory marked the Rams’ second of the season and was a resilient response after a 1-0 loss to Manhattan College on Sept. 14. The match was the squad’s first Atlantic 10 (A10) competition of the 2021-22 season.

Entering the game, La Salle had lost seven consecutive matches against Fordham. The Rams were also selected to finish first in the A10 according to preseason projections, with the Explorers slated to finish ninth. La Salle’s key advantage was Fordham’s recent struggles, as the reeling Rams had gotten off to an underwhelming 1-4-1 start to the 2021-22 season. 

After winning the A10 Championship last year and being named the 23rd-ranked program in the nation, the team opened the 2021-22 season with four losses in six nonconference matches. While the season may have begun with a brief skid, the start of conference play offers a clean slate for Fordham to begin its quest for another A10 Championship.

The first half of the match got off to a slow start, with La Salle hardly mustering any opportunities in Fordham’s defensive zone.

The first half of the match got off to a slow start, with La Salle hardly mustering any opportunities in Fordham’s defensive zone. In the first minute of play, a cross from the foot of Adrian Valentine, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’23, was stopped by the Explorers’ defense, but Fordham maintained pressure in La Salle’s defensive half. Minutes later, Galen Flynn, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’24, narrowly missed the net while attempting to finish another cross. 

The stalemate was abruptly broken with 22 minutes left in the half, when Junior Nare, LSU ’24, navigated the Fordham defense and connected with the back of the net on a nearly uncontested shot from just outside the 18-yard box. This shot was one of La Salle’s only scoring chances of the half, but Nare capitalized on a rare lapse in the Rams’ defense.

Fordham continued to apply pressure to the Explorers’ defenders with multiple dangerous crosses, but it was not until the 36th minute that the Rams evened the score. A strong throw-in from Captain Matt Sloan, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’22, made its way into the six-yard box before a La Salle defender inadvertently headed the ball into the net. The blunder leveled the match at 1-1. 

A whistle against La Salle was blown due to physical contact with a Fordham player.

Soon after, the Rams had a golden opportunity to take the lead. A messy turnover by La Salle with five minutes left in the half put the ball at Flynn’s feet inside of the 18-yard box, with Flynn making a move to get an open shot at net. The shot was aimed directly at La Salle keeper Mitch Foster, LSU ’23, who easily contained it and kept the score even heading into the second half.

Welcoming in the second half of the game, Fordham reentered the field with strong defensive plays as the Rams applied pressure on La Salle and limited opportunities on their side of the field. Fordam’s strengthened defense was a disorienting surprise for La Salle as they struggled to maintain possession of the ball and regularly missed passes. 

In the 64th minute, a whistle against La Salle was blown due to physical contact with a Fordham player, giving the Rams a free kick. The shot was deflected by the Explorers who seemed to find their defensive confidence again. Given the opportunity for a corner kick, Max Rogers, FCRH ’24, lined up to drive the ball straight into the net but La Salle gained possession only to then lose it again to Rogers, who assisted Jack Sluys, GSBRH ’22, giving Fordham a 2-1 lead.

La Salle, feeling pressure to even the score, worked hard to get in a shot but were constantly blocked by goalie Nick Buchholz, GSBRH ’24, who controlled the goal posts throughout the game. 

Fordham’s speed and aggressive play kept the team in the lead in the second half. Defender Jack Sluys stayed close to the goal post with intense energy that seemed to catch Justin Brunow, LSU ’24, off guard as Sluys tailed Brunow and brought him to the ground.

La Salle was determined to make sure the Rams did not hold possession again, but this was difficult as Fordham’s defense was consistent throughout the second half. The Explorers had an opportunity to make a shot as Aimar Leunda Etxeberria, LSU ’24, passed the ball to Dominick Bachstein, LSU ’24, only to immediately have it stolen as the Rams made sure that La Salle would not have a good pass in the last eight minutes.

The game was nearing its end, but the Explorers had no intention of giving up. Although the Rams were in the lead, they were no less determined to maintain it. Bachstein held possession of the ball as he headed straight for the goal, only for Rogers to come speeding behind him, bringing both of them down and leaving the ball to roll out of bounds. 

Fordham continued to push into La Salle’s defensive zone in the final 90 seconds of the game, ensuring that the Explorers could not bury a heroic game-tying goal as the match drew to a close. After 90 tense minutes, Fordham claimed its second victory of the season by a score of 2-1. The Rams’ improved effort gives hope to the rest of the season, with Fordham now holding a 1-0-0 record in conference play. 

While the Rams’ young season has gotten off to a tumultuous start, Fordham’s aspirations of repeating as conference champions remain alive and well. The Rams will look to carry this momentum into their next competition, as they take on nonconference opponent Rider University on Wednesday, Sept. 22.