By Isaiah Rosario, Staff Writer
It was a 70-degree afternoon as Manhattan men’s soccer took the field against Fairfield in the quarter-finals of the 2022 MAAC tournament. The last time that these two teams met it was a defensive battle as Manhattan narrowly beat Fairfield with a score of 1-0.
Head Coach, Jordan Scott told his squad some very critical things before the beginning of the match. Scott was able to tell the Quadrangle some of the things that were discussed in the locker room.
“It’s tough in those playoff games and that’s the theme of the season because there’s a lot of emotion on the line, but you have to be balanced in your approach,” Scott said. “You can’t be overly over-committed and you can’t be out of control and it’s hard in any sport to be able to hold yourself like that.”
“We did need to bring in aggression and we did need to bring an intensity of our game that they couldn’t handle and we did that,” Scott said. “We had several things we did throughout the week to get the boys to a place emotionally where they were ready to go in and also they understood the moment from a program history point of view.”
The trend of defensive showdowns between these two clubs continues; there was only one shot on goal within the first 10 minutes.
In the 18th minute, a defender for Fairfield, Cormac Pike slowly passed the ball back to Fairfield’s goalkeeper, James Anderson. Manhattan forward Gunnar Studenhofft noticed the slow roller to the goalkeeper and accelerated toward the ball, and tapped the ball in for Manhattan’s first goal of the game and leaving the Jaspers with a 1-0 lead.
Things got a little bit chippy in the 30th minute. Studenhofft had a breakaway when Pike stepped in for the ball and took out Studenhofft on the way. Studenhofft and Pike went face-to-face for a short period.
After flared tempers, Studenhoff stayed calm on a breakaway and passed the ball to the right to midfielder, Ronaldo Da Silva. Da Silva made a quick cut to the middle and took the shot into the bottom left corner to raise Manhattan’s lead to 2-0 in the 31st minute.
45 minutes in Manhattan leads Fairfield 2-0 at the half. Despite being up 2-0, one thing that Manhattan needed to keep in mind for the rest of the game was how to keep players in check who received a yellow card in the first half. Da Silva and forward Ayoub Boumelala were both awarded one yellow card in the first half.
There was a scare in the 58th minute as a ball from the right side got past Manhattan goalkeeper, Danny DiMarco. After being in the right place at the right time, Manhattan defender Nassim Akki slid in behind DiMarco into the goal to stop Fairfield forward Kaea Rangihaeata from cutting Manhattan’s lead to one.
As the tone was set early, and a slow second half, Manhattan was able to beat Fairfield with a score of 2-0. According to GoJaspers, Manhattan led in almost every single category. Manhattan had four more shots, one more shot on goal than Fairfield, and two more corners. Manhattan had one more save than Fairfield and one less foul.
Midfielder Henry Hamilton spoke to the Quadrangle about how he felt coming out of the pitch victorious against a tough Fairfield squad.
“Confident,” Hamilton said. “In the first half, we put on a really good performance. I think it was probably the best half of the whole season. Gunnar performed incredibly, got a goal and an assist, and can’t ask much more of your number nine in 45 minutes. Coming out of that first half, we were super confident. We knew going into the second half we needed to defend our lead. We are in the semi-finals and coming out of the game completely, I think we’re very confident.”
Manhattan is now set for a date with Iona on Nov. 10. Manhattan vs. Iona. This matchup is set to be a solid game between the two clubs as their first matchup in the season determined who received the higher seed in the tournament which ended up being Iona.
The last time Manhattan met Iona it was 2-1 in favor of Iona. Hamilton scored a penalty kick in the 11th minute to make it 1-0. The rest of the game was all Iona, as Iona scored 2 goals, one in the 33rd minute and one in the 60th minute.
Hamilton spoke on what he thinks is the main goal offensively to come out victorious versus Iona for a trip to the MAAC Finals.
“Just going from strength to strength, since [the Iona game] we’ve not lost the game,” Hamilton said. “We’ve been scoring goals and creating opportunities and for us, as promising wingers and attackers it’s very much about stability, and often about confidence. For the front four, even the subs…and for the starters, we’re all confident in all scoring goals and training and some of us are scoring goals in games. The interplay we each have with each other, and team chemistry for the past six weeks has been incredible. We’re all such good friends on the pitch and also off the pitch. That confidence, I think is going to be key for us.”
For the great run that the Jaspers are on, Scott emphasized how their main room for improvement is just continuing to step on the field together so they could play more as a unit.
“Every team in the world has an area that they’re looking to get better at,” Scott said. “I think deep down ours is just time spent together. This group of players has been together all year but in the longevity of a college group. There’s only [Ronaldo Da Silva] graduating. If there are any weaknesses, probably that we just haven’t experienced this together for long enough. Next year, this team will be even better because of this journey we’ve taken. It’s going to be interesting to see how we cope with these moments because maybe there are other teams in our league that have been here before.”
In a tough matchup against Iona on Sunday, Scott spoke to the Quadrangle about how the energy they brought to Sunday’s game against Fairfield needs to be the same energy that they bring to Iona.
“Every game is going to be a high-level game,” Scott said. “I think that the energy we brought the other night there is exactly the energy we’re gonna have to bring especially early in the game against Iona.”
Scott also explained to the Quadrangle what is going to be vital especially on the field with a tough matchup against a talented Iona squad.
“We’re going to have to be organized and disciplined on set pieces, defending set pieces, because the field we’re playing on is a little smaller and a little tighter, so it’s not as easy for spacing reasons. I think we’ll win the game if we’re emotionally balanced, there’s a little bit of revenge in our minds. But I don’t look at this game, I look at this as a two-game week…we have to win both. At the end of the day, if we feel we’re the best team in the league, we need to play our level and give our best performance and that’s only going to come through energy”
Editor’s Note: Andrew Mannion contributed to reporting.