MS: MANHATTAN 3, FAIRFIELD 0
by PETE JANNY, Asst. Sports Editor
A season filled with memorable highs and forgettable lows reached a new high last Wednesday night when Manhattan (5-8, 4-3 MAAC) embarrassed a reeling Fairfield squad by a score of 3-0.
All three Manhattan goals on this night came from different players. The game-winner came off the foot of Brandon-Joseph Baudi in the 83rd minute that helped facilitate Fairfield’s epic collapse. Under a minute left in regulation, Manhattan put the finishing touchings on their emphatic victory with senior Noah Amissah and junior Berti Fourrier each finding the back of the net to send Gaelic Park into a frenzy.
The first half was closely-contested with both teams fighting hard to create separation. The narrative of this half was no surprise considering the radical parity of the MAAC conference for men’s soccer. Little to nothing seems to separate every one of Manhattan’s conference tilts as evidenced by the fact that the Jaspers have only played two MAAC games this year with the margin of victory being more than one goal. It’s also true that Manhattan has generally been a better second-half team with this game proving to be no exception.
Although they didn’t overly impress in the first half, there were no real indications that Fairfield was going to experience a humiliating demise in the second-half. After all, the visitors did take a 7-4 advantage in shots with them into the half-time break.
Both teams had a few nice offensive flashes in the early stages of the half, but nothing too serious. As time elapsed, Manhattan grew more dangerous on the offensive end, hinting at something special to come.
In the 56th minute, Manhattan threatened thanks to the creativity and aggressiveness of midfield maestro Felipe Clavijo. After stealing a ball in Fairfield territory, Clavijo initiated the Manhattan attack by dribbling down the right side before playing a ball to the opposite side of the field to junior Desmond Cole. Instead of looking to shoot himself, Cole fed Fourrier at the top of the box whose shot was blocked by a Fairfield defender to safety. Moments later, Cole got himself involved in the attack again when his cross from the right side led to a shot from Amissah that was blocked and went out of play for a Manhattan corner kick.
At this point, it was clear that Manhattan’s offense was ascending to new heights. Much of the credit for this increase in offensive activity goes to Amissah, Joseph-Baudi, and senior Tristan Doran who refused to let the Fairfield defense catch their breath.
In the 65th minute, Doran showed his ability to impact both sides of the field when he gained possession of the ball on the right side of the field in Fairfield territory before picking out Amissah at the top of the box. His one-time shot strike was caught by the Fairfield goalie to prolong the search for the opening goal. Despite being unlucky for most of this game, Amissah’s hard work on offense continued up until the final horn sounded. Ammisah’s involvement was once again on display with 18 minutes left when a cross from Joseph-Baudi led to a header opportunity for the senior striker that didn’t have enough on it to fool the keeper.
With Fairfield’s offense still in a funk, Manhattan knew they had to make the most out of the stretch run in this important home game. Coming off three straight frustrating losses, Manhattan knew they couldn’t afford to drop another game they deserved to win. Joseph-Baudi must have been thinking the same thing because from the moment he got into the game in the second half, he looked like a player on a mission.
After fruitless chances from seniors Adrien Awana and Tristan Doran, Joseph-Baudi stepped up for his team to secure a lead that would not be relinquished. After helping his team maintain a presence on the Fairfield half of the field for a solid minute or two, Joseph-Baudi took possession of the ball near the edge of the upper right corner of the box, executed a nice shot fake, and sealed the deal with a powerful blast that beat the keeper. Considering all the positive things he did prior to that, Joseph-Baudi deserved that moment.
“I’ve wanted one all year,” Joseph-Baudi said about scoring his first goal of the season during a postgame interview with Go Jaspers. “I’ve just kept grinding and working hard and it paid off.”
As a way to kill the time, Manhattan spent the last few minutes of the game trying to play keep away in both corners of Fairfield’s half of the field. However, these feelings of impatience for the final horn to sound gave way to more offensive desires. With 30 seconds left, Amissah won a loose ball challenge with the goalie at the top of the box to set himself up for an easy finish. The Manhattan scoring clinic reached its conclusion with four seconds when Fourrier followed up his own shot in the box with an acrobatic finish to put the icing on the cake. It was a fitting end to an absolute dominant second-half showing for Manhattan.
Manhattan used a 14-5 second-half advantage in shots to outpace Fairfield 18-12 in that category. Amissah paced the Jaspers in shots with five, while Fourrier and Joseph-Baudi recorded four and three shots, respectively. On the other side of the field, senior goalie Marcellin Gohier was rock solid, collecting one save for the Jaspers en route to his 15th career shutout.
Head coach Jorden Scott was extremely proud of the way his team bounced back after a few heartbreaking losses. While happy with the way they played altogether, Scott cited Joseph-Baudi’s arrival in the second half as a big reason why the team finished the game so strong.
“From start to finish, I thought we were energetic and we were demanding,” Scott said. “After not starting the second half, Brandon came on with energy and really lifted the group.”
Manhattan returned to action on Saturday, October 26th for an away game at Canisius (2-12, 1-6 MAAC). The team walked away with another big result by beating the Golden Griffins 2-1. After falling behind early, the Jaspers used goals from Brandon Joseph-Baudi and Adrien Awana to complete the comeback.
Manhattan will now turn their attention to Saint Peter’s University (10-5, 7-1 MAAC) for a tough road test against the Peacocks this Wednesday, October 30th at 2 PM. The team will then finish the week off with a senior day matchup against Niagara (5-10-1, 3-4-1 MAAC) this Saturday, October 30th at 3 PM. All nine of the program’s seniors will be honored prior to kick-off.