Fordham Claims 2016 Atlantic 10 Championship
Davidson, N.C. – Prior to the start of the Atlantic 10 Championship, the Fordham men’s soccer team preached, “Defend, Defend, Defend.” By the end of regulation as well as two overtime sessions, the Rams did just that, putting together their third clean sheet of the Championship, however the VCU Rams did not budge either, leaving the 2016 Atlantic 10 title game tied at 0-0 after 110 minutes of action, leading to a penalty kick shootout for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. In the shootout, Fordham's Rashid Nuhu made three saves, while Janos Loebe, Joergen Oland, and Matthew Lewis, all converted on their chances, as the Rams claimed their second Atlantic 10 Championship in three years, 3-2, over VCU at Davidson’s Alumni Soccer Stadium.
Fordham moved to 10-6-4 on the season, while VCU ends their season at 8-9-4.
Though the game was scoreless for 110 minutes, there were chances for both sides to get on the board throughout the game.
In the seventh minute, Fordham’s Eric Ohlendorf had the first scoring chance of the game, as he headed down a cross right in front of the six-yard box toward goal, that VCU’s Pierre Gardan knocked away for his first save of the game.
In the 25th minute, VCU put a cross toward the six-yard box with a player there, but Fordham defender Christopher Bazzini cleared that chance away, keeping the game scoreless.
The second half saw more chances for the two teams, but neither could break through. The best of all of them was on another header opportunity for Ohlendorf in the 87th minute. Andrew Hickey placed a cross into the box from the left side, which Ohlendorf headed over the top of the goal, leading to overtime.
The second session of overtime saw an early chance for VCU on a long cross from the right side that was headed for a wide open Jorge Herranz in the box, but Nuhu jumped and intercepted the pass before it got to Herranz.
The best chance of overtime was in the 107th minute on a brilliant cross from the right side by Fordham’s Vincenzo Zuccala, who hit Ohlendorf in stride for a header to the lower left corner. However, Gardan made a diving fingertip save to keep VCU in the game, and push the game into a shootout.
The shootout began VCU’s Steve Dal Molin converting on his penalty kick attempt, while Fordham’s Janos Loebe converted against VCU backup goalkeeper Joe Rice, who was brought in for the shootout, replacing Gardan.
In round two, Dakota Barnathan was denied by Nuhu on a shot to the lower left corner, while Joergen Oland’s soft hit found the left side of the net for a 2-1 Fordham edge.
Round three saw Nuhu come up with another save, this one on Herranz, giving Fordham a big chance to take control of the shootout, but Jannik Loebe’s attempt sailed high, leaving Fordham still ahead, 2-1.
Both teams converted in round four with attempts by VCU’s Greg Boehme and Fordham’s Matthew Lewis, putting the score at 3-2 with one shooter remaining. For VCU, it was Eli Lockaby, who went left side, but was denied by Nuhu to give Fordham the Atlantic 10 crown for the second time in three seasons, and third Atlantic 10 title overall.
In net, Nuhu, who was selected as the Championship’s Most Outstanding Player, posted his third shutout of the Championship, making two saves in the game, but more importantly three stops in the penalty kick shootout.
In addition to Nuhu, Fordham also had Janos Loebe, Jannik Loebe, Eric Ohlendorf, and Cole Stevenson named to the Atlantic 10 All-Championship team.
The Rams will now await to see where they will go in the opening round of the NCAA Championship on Monday afternoon at 1:00 PM, as the selection show will be on NCAA.com.
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