by Pete Janny, Asst. Sports Editor
MS: Manhattan 1, Iona 2
Having already won their first two conference games, the Manhattan College men’s soccer team (3-6, 2-1 MAAC) was feeling good about themselves in the lead up to their game against MAAC rivals Iona (7-2, 2-0 MAAC) last Wednesday in New Rochelle.
It looked as if the Jaspers were not going to need the help of the friendly confines of Gaelic Park on this occasion as they scored in the 72nd minute to break a scoreless tie. However, Iona’s offense rose to a new level late in the game by scoring two unanswered goals to complete an inspiring comeback attempt. The game-winner came 93 seconds into the second overtime period off a laser shot from Iona’s Mauro Bravo that sealed Manhattan’s unfortunate fate.
The Jaspers got off to a solid start in this one with the majority of the game’s early chances belonging to them.
As always, junior Berti Fourrier brought his competitive spirit with him to New Rochelle to help fuel the Manhattan attack. Six minutes in, Fourrier was the beneficiary of a set piece pass into the middle of the box that resulted in a header attempt for the French native that went wide left of the net. Four minutes later, junior Oswald Annang had some real estate at the top of the box to work with, but his ensuing would go high of the net to end the threat. This stretch of good play from the Jaspers culminated with an ambitious shot from defender Callum Carsley in the 17th minute that was blocked by an Iona player on its way toward the goal.
After looking lost for a long stretch in the first half, the Iona offense began to show signs of life towards the end of the half.
Iona’s best chance of the half came in the 28th minute when Esad Mackic made a nice trap to set himself up for a shot from just outside the right corner of the box. Fortunately for Manhattan, Mackic did not make clean contact with the ball, thus sending it wide of the net. Nonetheless, this was an encouraging sign for Iona as they looked to put their early struggles behind them.
With only a few minutes left in the first half, Manhattan was dealt a tough blow when senior Tristan Doran went down injured on an Iona attack. The Gaels were almost able to capitalize on Doran’s physical limitations as they advanced the ball pretty deep into Manhattan territory before senior Adrien Awana made a clean slide tackle to end the threat. Although Doran was not immediately removed from the game, he did end up sitting for a good chunk of the rest of the game. It was later revealed that Doran was sent to the hospital for further evaluation, however, the precise diagnosis and severity of the injury are still unknown to the Quadrangle.
Despite holding a 5-2 advantage in shots at the break, the Manhattan offense had a quiet ending to the half, while the Iona attack started to come into their own. Iona’s valiant play towards the end of the half could probably be attributed to the palpable energy and passion supplied by their fanbase. Even though the game was taking place on a Wednesday afternoon, Iona students still showed up in impressive numbers to support their team.
The beginning of the second half was mostly uneventful with both defenses battling hard to give their teams a chance at victory.
The best opportunity for either team out of the break came in the 53rd minute when Manhattan junior Brandon Joseph-Baudi used his speed and elusiveness to wreak havoc on the Iona defense. Flying down the left sideline, Joseph-Baudi forced his way into the left side of the box before firing off a shot that was broken up by an Iona defender for a Manhattan corner. If not for the defender’s crucial challenge, Joseph-Baudi may have very well secured his first goal of the season on the play.
With Iona once again struggling to get things going, the home team tried finding other ways besides teamwork and skill to separate themselves from the Jaspers.
This strategy paid off with the Gaels being gifted a penalty in the 59th minute. Iona’s Josh Plimpton initiated contact with a Manhattan defender on the right side of the box before diving to the ground. Clearly, the referee saw something severe enough to reward the home team with a penalty. The controversial call didn’t end up mattering anyways as Manhattan’s Hunter Kochiss would go on to save a penalty attempt by Mackic. The freshman keeper’s clutch stop elicited roaring cheers from the Manhattan bench and quickly silenced the animated crowd. Starting for the second straight game, Kochiss looked sharp in this one coming off his memorable debut at home against Quinnipiac. His save on the penalty kick is undoubtedly the best highlight of his young career thus far.
“It’s been a good opportunity,” Kochiss said of the significant playing time he’s been receiving as of late. “The faith that the coaches have in me means a lot especially as a freshman.”
As for the save on the penalty kick, Kochiss was just relieved that he guessed the right way.
“Penalties are kind of tricky because it’s a guessing game most of the time but a teammate gave me advice about the player’s tendency because he knew him so I just trusted him and made the save,” Kochiss said.
The search for the game’s opening goal ended in the 72nd minute thanks to the heroics of Manhattan junior Moritz Riegel.
Off a feed from senior Lorenzo Froehle, Riegel found enough space for himself in the box to sneak a low shot past Iona goalie Gabriel Cinanni. The goal was Riegel’s second of the season and the assist was Froehle’s first of the season. Having also scored the game-winner against Quinnipiac, Froehle has clearly been playing with confidence as of late.
Manhattan almost extended their lead with six minutes when an Awana free-kick from just outside the right corner of the box was saved by Cinanni, leading to a massive scramble in the box for the ball. Manhattan’s inability to get insurance for their lead would end up coming back to bite them.
Another big regret of Manhattan’s was the freedom they gave reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year, Mauro Bravo, to operate.
With eight minutes left, Bravo tried his luck with a shot from outside the box that went right into the arms of Kochiss. Five minutes later, Bravo retaliated with a shot off a free kick from just outside the 16-yard box that nailed the crossbar and went out of play. Bravo’s resilience and belief would end up paying dividends with the Gaels finally scoring to tie the game in the 87th minute. The goal was made possible off a nice free-kick delivery from Bravo that led to a fancy backheel finish from junior Joseph Cusano. The goal was Cusano’s first of his career and came at a crucial juncture in the game to help force overtime.
Overtime was similar to the end of regulation in that Iona looked like the more confident side. Plimpton tried winning it for the Gaels by getting off two shots in the final minutes of the first overtime period that were both blocked by Manhattan. The second overtime period lasted just a minute and a half with Bravo securing the game-winning goal off a cracker from outside the box that beat Kochiss. It was an epic ending to what was an exciting, hard-fought game.
Despite the tough result, Kochiss believes his team is heading in the right direction.
“As the season has gone on, we’ve played better,” Kochiss said. “I do think we have a chance at a MAAC Championship but we just got to keep working and not slack off.”
The Jaspers will look to redeem themselves when they travel to Lawrenceville, New Jersey on Wednesday, October 16th for a meeting with the Rider Broncs (4-4-1, 1-1-1 MAAC). The team will next be at home on Saturday, October 19th for a showdown with the Marist Red Foxes (3-6, 0-2 MAAC) that starts at 4 PM.