By Grant Playter | Staff Writer
EWING — In soccer, momentum can be everything, and if you are able to score two goals in the first five-minutes, it’s very possible to keep the pressure on the losing team, for the rest of the game. The William Paterson Pioneers managed to do just that. shutting out the hosting College of New Jersey Lions.
The Lions lost 3-0 at the Lions Soccer Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The audience was left slack-jawed in amazement when just over a minute into the game, the Pioneers managed to score and put themselves on the board. A blocked shot from JP Gonzales led to a corner kick for the Pioneers, which Charles Lizardo managed to head it into the bottom right corner of the net and score his first goal of the season.
“We couldn’t have planned it any better,” Gonzales said. “Our goal from the beginning of the game to get on the board early, we knew they were a good team, a physical team, so we tried to keep the ball in and go to goal as much as possible and luckily we got those three early goals.”
Following this success, the Pioneers kept up the offensive attack. Three minutes later, the Pioneers were back at net, and after a cross-pass from Jordan Rosenblum, Cameron Allen managed to extend their lead before the game had even hit the five minute mark. Rosenblum, a freshman, was one of many filling-in for the gaps in the Pioneers offense left by player injuries, among the starters.
“They did great,” Gonzales said. “They matched the intensity for their first NJAC game, a lot of them didn’t know what to expect. They helped us out very well, Jordan played right back today for a couple of people that were injured, and he did great. They all helped us out.”
After the second goal, there was a lot of midfield play and a handful of shot attempts from both teams. The Pioneers were able to prevent the lions from logging many shot attempts and managed to net their third and final goal towards the end of the half.
“We were able to do some things that we went over in training,” Pioneers head coach Brian Woods said. “I was happy that we were able to pull them off in the match. Their coach [TCNJ head coach George Nazario] made some very good adjustments and took some things away from us that we were doing early in the match and kinda put us on our heels, but I’m glad we got those two early goals.”
Going into this game, the Pioneers had been on a five-game winning streak, only losing in their season opener to the Dickinson College Devils. The Lions have had a bit more of a mixed season, entering the field with a 4-2 record, but had been on a two-game winning streak prior to the game.
Both teams wanted to preserve their streak, and going into the second half, the Lions played a much stronger offensive game.
“You have to chase a game, if you don’t chase a game, then you’re just going to wind up, 4, 5, 6 to nothing,” Lions head coach George Nazario. “To at least give them credit, they kept things balanced in the second half, they still had a couple of half decent chances, but this game’s about what happens in each 18-yard box defensively on one-side and offensively on the other side and today we were second-best.”
Ultimately, while the Lions managed to make up the difference in shots in the second half, there were not able to put up any goals. They were effectively stonewalled by the Pioneers, who made sure to plan for a more energetic second half.
“With the pressure they were giving to us, we were just trying to get the ball over to half and just keep touching and trying to get out of it as much as possible,” Pioneers sophomore Dromo Quaye said. “We knew they were gonna come with a pretty aggressive and forward up, so our defense tried to get out as much as possible to get out of the situation, the midfielders were brilliant with the ball.”
Next week, the Pioneer will be looking to continue their streak on their home turf, while the Lions will look to get their groove back against Drew University. Coach Nazario is hopeful their next game can get the team where they need to be.
“Look, the bottom line is the conference games are always the toughest, what you do in your conference will determine how the season goes,” Nazario said. “For us, the non-conference games, as much as they may be important, they’re not as important. Hopefully, we can get things back on track and take care of some conference games and it’ll be a good season.”
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