By Daniel Ynfante & August Kissel, Editor & Staff Writer
It’s been seven years since the Manhattan Jaspers won a home opener. And after Wednesday’s home bout against the NJIT Highlanders, the streak of defeats continued for Manhattan.
The Jaspers dropped an uneventful game to NJIT 1-0 at Gaelic Park. NJIT converted on one of the few chances it had in the game early in the second half, when Rene White buried a left-footed strike from inside the box.
“I felt like we did a really good job in the first half, and we just got caught in the second half on one play,” Leonard Sohn, a freshman defender for Manhattan said to GoJaspers.com in a post-game interview. “It was unfortunate, but I thought we played a great game today.”
The Jaspers and Highlanders played an even first half, where neither team had clear chances on goal. The game was contested mostly in the midfield, as the teams exchanged possessions and failed to take command of the match.
But just two minutes into the second half, NJIT took advantage of its first clear opportunity. White received the ball from Jack Flanagan in the box and sent a shot into the back of the net for a goal.
“We made a little change in our offense, in our movement, and it kind of paid off,” Fernando Barboto, NJIT head coach said about the goal.
Now ahead in the match, Barboto changed NJIT’s formation to a 4-5-1, looking to hold on to the lead. The Highlanders bunkered in, conceding possession to the Jaspers, but the Jaspers failed to take advantage.
“That’s college soccer,” Jordan Scott, Manhattan head coach said. “I’ve been doing this for six and a half years now and a number of games I’ve left the field and went, ‘Wow, we really dominated there.’ But we just haven’t been able to get it done. The game is very stats driven these days, but truthfully the only stat that really matters is the score line.”
Noah Amissah looked to have tied things up for the Jaspers, but his goal was ruled offsides. A few minutes later, Ajani Phillips missed a wide open shot in front of goal, as his shot went high and over the bar.
The Jaspers sent in crosses into the box as time expired, but the Highlanders held on for the win.
“I’m happy with how they applied themselves after last week,” Scott said about his team, which was coming off a 3-0 defeat against Temple in the first game of the season. “They came here tonight and really gave a good account of themselves. Any other night we could’ve won this game.”
The Jaspers had four freshmen see action in the home opener. In a game with few bright spots for Manhattan, the play of the youngsters stuck out.
“We had a number of young guys really step up and come on the field,” Scott said. “Christoph [Gums], Allen Martinez, Ryan Shields … and Noah Amissah leading the line as a young freshman. I think that we should be excited by the depth of this squad, and I think that we just have to continue to work hard on being a little more clinical.”
The Jaspers return to action on Monday when they take on Binghamton at Gaelic.