by Pete Janny, Asst. Sports Editor
Ms: Manhattan 1, MONMOUTH 0
MS: MANHATTAN 1, QUINNIPIAC 0
The Manhattan College men’s soccer team (3-5-0, 2-0-0 MAAC) opened up MAAC play in style with a 1-0 double overtime win over the Monmouth Hawks (0-8-1, 0-2-0 MAAC) on Wednesday, October 2nd.
On the heels of their triumph over Fordham on September 24th, the Jaspers needed to follow up that performance with a good showing against the Hawks. Fortunately, the team was able to pull out a win despite not playing their best soccer. In what was a defensive battle, the Manhattan backline proved to be superior, allowing the Hawks to produce only one shot on the night. In the end, the Manhattan offense was able to do just enough to secure the win with Thomas Hitchins burying a one-time shot from just outside the box with 36 seconds left in the second overtime period to clinch the win.
Neither team looked comfortable in the opening 20 minutes of action, giving off the impression that this was going to be a dog fight up until the very end. This lackluster beginning was especially frustrating for Manhattan, who as the home team should’ve done more to exploit a dysfunctional Hawks team. Despite being the road team and struggling to find a rhythm on offense, the Hawks still managed to outshoot the Jaspers 3-1 in what was a forgettable half.
The second half got off to an electric start with both teams looking rejuvenated.
Two minutes in, the Hawks almost broke through when a Monmouth player played a low and dangerous ball into the box that made Manhattan goalie Marcellin Gohier come out further than usual to make a play. Although he was able to quash the attack, Gohier ended up colliding with a Monmouth attacker in what was a scary moment for Manhattan. Much to the delight of the fans and his teammates, Gohier was able to walk off the pain to stay in the game. Two minutes after that, the Hawks threatened again with a long range strike from John Atunes box that was saved back into play by Gohier before eventually trickling out of bounds for a Monmouth corner.
After a ten minute stretch in which neither team threatened once, the Hawks took control of the momentum once again. This surge by the visitors led to a fresh set of challenges for Gohier.
The French goalkeeper recorded two more big saves in the 62nd and 63rd minutes respectively to keep the game scoreless. The latter of the two came in the form of an acrobatic save off of a hard shot from Atunes that elicited a resounding applause from the crowd.
Through all this, the Jaspers maintained their composure and came close to sneaking one in themselves when in the 64th minute a massive scramble unfolded in the Monmouth box. Unfortunately, the ball was cleared in enough time to prevent a Manhattan player from pouncing on it.
With four minutes left in regulation, Manhattan junior Berti Fourrier almost made his team’s struggles a distant memory. Just when one of his team’s counter-attacks looked to be going nowhere, Fourrier tried taking matters into his own hands by unleashing a strike from outside the box that eerily missed the upper right corner of the net. The team would end up having to settle for a chance at an overtime win with nothing else materializing in the closing minutes of regulation.
In the beginning of the overtime period, Fourrier was at the head of the attack again for Manhattan, looking to find a way to end things.
In the 95th minute, Fourrier gained possession in the middle of the box before firing a shot on net. There wasn’t a better time for Monmouth goalie Sean Murray to record his first save than on this play as he blocked Fourrier’s shot to perpetuate the game.
Just like last game at Fordham, this game was characterized by another storybook ending.
With 36 seconds left, Manhattan senior Tristan Doran launched one of his signature throws to Hitchins at the top of the box. His one-time shot landed in the right corner of the net to win it for the Jaspers. While the rest of the team rushed to the corner of the field to celebrate with Hitchins, those who were still in attendance got to their feet to salute the team. It was a feel-good ending to what was otherwise an uneventful game.
When asked about how special his first-career goal felt, Hitchins showed humility by complimenting the work of his teammates.
“We’re a family and we win together,” Hitchins said. “Our depth was what won us this game and we just know we can beat any team in this conference.”
Gohier was once again stellar in net for Manhattan, recording six saves on the night on his way to recording his 14th career shutout. With the MAAC season just underway, Gohier has a chance to add a few more shutouts to build on his own school record.
Thankfully, Manhattan was able to come away victorious despite Monmouth’s 12-9 advantage in shots for the game. Manhattan played markedly better in both overtime periods as evidenced by their 4-2 advantage in shots over the final 20 minutes of play.
Manhattan returned to action only three days later for a showdown with the Quinnipiac Bobcats (3-4-2, 1-1-0 MAAC) at Gaelic Park. After not having any home games throughout their non-conference schedule, it felt good for Manhattan to open their MAAC season with back-to-back home games. More importantly, Manhattan was able to escape with yet another 1-0 win on the strength of a first-half goal scored by senior Lorenzo Froehle. The win came with added importance as it marked the first ever win and shutout for freshman goalie Hunter Kochiss, who was replacing an injured Marcellin Gohier.
Manhattan dictated the pace of the game early as they moved the ball around effortlessly to keep Quinnipiac on their toes. With Quinnipiac sitting back, the Jaspers used their success in the passing game to create a few early chances.
In the 6th minute, junior Berti Fourrier decided to give the Quinnipiac goalie an early test with a shot from outside the box that hardly made the keeper flinch. Three minutes later, junior Brandon Joseph-Baudi used his speed to beat a defender on the right sideline before delivering a ball to the feet of senior Felipe Clavijo on the left side of the box. His ensuing shot sailed high of the goal to end the threat.
The Quinnipiac offense was quiet in the first half with the exception of one big chance in the 28th minute. In an open position at the top of Manhattan’s box, Quinnipiac’s Tomas Svecula decided to let one fly, but the shot missed wide of the target to add to the visitors’ frustrations. It was a waste to what was Quinnipiac’s best chance of the game up to that point.
Manhattan proceeded to make Quinnipiac’s afternoon even worse when Froehle found the back of the net in the 34th minute. It all started with a clever through ball deep into Quinnipiac territory from Fourrier that was intended for classmate Moritz Riegel, however, the ball ended up being unintentionally redirected by Riegel to Froehle, who finished the job. The goal came precisely 41 seconds after the Alaska native checked in the game, increasing his career goal total to two. The assist was the first of Riegel’s career.
Manhattan had no intentions of becoming complacent after scoring the game’s opening goal.
Later in the first half, Manhattan’s Joseph Koroma flashed his elite skills when he dribbled past a few players in the middle of the field before eventually losing possession of the ball. Even though nothing was made of it, the play was one of the more exhilarating moments of the half. Shortly after Koroma’s brilliant run, a nice cross from the left sideline led to a header on net by Fourrier, but there was not enough power on it to fool the goalie.
Quinnipiac looked like a different team in the second half as they outshot the Jaspers 9-7 over the final 45 minutes of play.
Quinnipiac’s most exciting highlight of the night came in the 57th minute when Romain Daniellou badly beat a Manhattan defender on his way into the left side of the box before firing off a shot that hit the right post. Manhattan got a little lucky to avoid conceding a goal on the play as Kochiss was completely caught off guard by the explosive shot.
Quinnipiac’s offensive aggression would only intensify as the half wore on.
In the 61st minute, the Bobcats hit another post when Eamon Whelan’s header bounced off the crossbar before being cleared away from danger. During the development of the play, a Quinnipiac player made contact with Kochiss, forcing him to the ground. Even though Quinnipiac didn’t end up scoring on the play, the Manhattan fans quickly came to the defense of their goalkeeper by voicing their displeasure with the head referee for not calling a foul.
Manhattan caught another big break in the 72nd minute when a Quinnipiac goal was disallowed for offsides. The illegal goal came off a free-kick cross to the far post that took one bounce before being headed in by Whelan.
The closing minutes of the game were characterized by a few last Manhattan chances. In the end, the team’s one goal proved to be enough. The win brought Manhattan into exclusive company with Niagara as the only two teams in the MAAC to start off conference play with two straight wins.
Before the game, program held their annual alumni game. There were about 30 former players who showed up to celebrate the history of the program.
Manhattan will continue their MAAC season on Wednesday, October 9th when they square off with Iona in New Rochelle. Kick-off for that game is scheduled for 3 PM.