TEANECK, NJ--The NJIT men's soccer team suffered its first loss of the 2019 campaign after a hard-fought match at Fairleigh Dickinson Tuesday evening, as the Knights topped visiting NJIT, 2-1, in non-conference men's soccer action at University Stadium.
NJIT, ranked No. 3 in the latest United Soccer Coaches Atlantic Region poll, moves to 2-1-3 on the season while Fairleigh Dickinson, ranked No. 2 in the Northeast Region improves to 4-2-0.
The Highlanders, which entered Tuesday's match as one-of-24 undefeated teams in the NCAA, played four of its first five matches in overtime, including three overtime draws.
Freshman Alejandro Rabell scored the Highlanders lone goal in the 82nd minute assisted by Regsan Watkins. The goal for Rabell was his second of the season while Watkins collects his first assist as a Highlander.
The visitors, who put on the pressure in the final 10 minutes of action, edged the home team in total shots, 14-11, after being out-shot in the first half, 8-4.
"I think we were very good in the attack and in possession," head coach Fernando Barboto commented. "I felt we dominated both halves. But in soccer, you have to make plays on both sides of the ball. Tonight we needed to finish one more chance of so many created offensively and we didn't. Defensively, we were careless to give up the second goal. We will bounce back this weekend as we open ASUN Conference action."
Transfer Ryan Melink led the Highlanders with three shots while Rene White, Thomas Radon and Joao Costa each posted two shots.
Reigning ASUN Conference Defensive Player of the Week Samuel Reisgys combined for a pair of saves.
NJIT had an early opportunity to score in the ninth minute as ASUN Conference reigning Player of the Week White's shot was saved to the bottom right of the frame by FDU's Jahmali Waite.
A big defensive series by the Highlanders came in the 26th minute of action. The NJIT keeper came off his line as Fairleigh Dickinson played the ball to the middle of the field with the Knights first shot off the foot of Daniel Lasarte but NJIT's Arrio Rusnak came up with a huge defensive play, clearing the ball.
The Knights Jared Dillon took the second shot in the series, as NJIT's Reigys tracked back into position and made an impressive save that was on target to the far post.
Melink's shot in the 28th minute to the bottom center of the goal was saved by Waite.
Fairleigh Dickinson held an 8-4 advantage in shots in the first half led by Jared Dillon with four shots while NJIT's Radon paced the Highlanders with two.
NJIT fired off the first shot of the second half, coming off the foot of Rabell, who blasted a shot from 20 yards out in the 51st minute, sailing high.
A pair of opportunities for the visiting Highlanders came in the 53rd minute on a shot by Rabjell after a free kick by Andrew Nino was deflected off the far post and shot rebounded by Joao Costa just missed wide.
Fairleigh Dickinson broke a scoreless match in the 54th minute on a goal by Rocky Garretson, assisted by Ideal Shefqeti for a 1-0 advantage.
Shefqeti served the ball just past the midfield line over the NJIT defense, to Garretson, who settled the ball with his right foot and scored to the left of the Highlander keeper.
The Knights went ahead, 2-0, in the 74th minute on a goal by Joshua Ferreira, his second of the season, assisted by Diego Arribas. Arribas started the play, carrying the ball along the endline, finding Ferriera, who quickly turned and found the back of the net for Fairleigh Dickinson.
NJIT cut the Fairleigh Dickinson lead to 2-1 in the 82nd minute on a Rabell goal in traffic, assisted by Regsan Watkins. The goal for Rabell was his second of the season.
White nearly tied the match at 2-2 in the 84th minute after receiving the ball inside the box from Nino on the left side but White's shot sailed high over the cross bar.
NJIT will return to action on September 21 when the Highlanders open ASUN Conference play at Stetson in DeLand, Florida. Kickoff time is slated for 7pm.
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