BROOKLYN, NY – After nearly 79 minutes of scoreless action, Iona's contest against LIU Brooklyn turned on a swivel and became a rollercoaster of a season-opener. The Gaels and Blackbirds battled to a 1-1 draw on Friday evening in a contest that featured 30 combined shots, 29, and nine cards.
After a fifteen minute feeling out period, junior goalkeeper Juan Alcantara came up large for Iona with a save of an attempted header in the 16'. The Blackbirds, in their first corner attempt of the season, forced Alcantara to come out and punch away a craning pass. After a series of ricochets in the box, the loose ball bounced off the cross bar and landed in a dangerous area where LIU forward Erik Johansson had a header attempt. The lobbed attack forced Iona's goalie to quickly retreat and deflect it over the bar.
Senior Killian Colombie recorded Iona's first shot on goal of the season in the 20'. He took it in space and delivered one with his left food that Blackbird goalie Anthony Sciola handled fairly easily. The attacking pressure increased in the sequencing minutes with midfielders Najim Romero and Claude Diesse having dangerous attempts from just inside the box. The Gaels had three corner kicks in a span of less than three minutes, but the Blackbirds escaped via a save and two blocks.
The Maroon & Gold held LIU Brooklyn to two shots in the first half. The Gaels fired 10 attempts at net, three of which were on goal. Sophomore Tomas Jamett and Romero each had two shots to lead all players at the break.
The first eight minutes of the second half saw both Iona and LIU Brooklyn nearly break the scoreless tie. Senior Samuel Saenz, who came on as a substitute in the first half, had a lofted chip shot that floated just a foot over the crossbar. Three minutes later in the 53', the Blackbirds had a quick counterattack chance that led to Romario Guscott hitting the post.
LIU Brooklyn had a dangerous sequence midway through the second half with Ahmad Elfaham and Xavi Verdu attempting shots on goal. The Gaels withstood the brief carnage and got a series of strong scoring changes from rookie Esad Mackic and Jamett.
Iona fell behind 1-0 in the in the 79' when Fredrik Mathisen dribbled through the top of the box and drilled one into the upper left of goal.
The Gaels responded 18 seconds later via a phenomenal free kick from freshman Mauro Bravo. Both he and junior Sebastian Gordillo lined up above the ball on a set piece from 20 yards out, and it was the rookie who curved one around the wall and inside the right post. The goal-resulting set piece was set up by Blackbird Zach Peterson committing a foul and being ejected from the game with a second yellow card.
The playing field became 10-on-10 when Gordillo was issued a red card in the 86'. The even standing stood till the clock read 89:46. At that moment, LIU Brooklyn became limited to just nine players on the pitch with Chris Solbakken being issued an immediate red card.
After 90 full minutes, the Maroon & Gold held a 17-11 total shots and 8-5 shots on goal advantage. The Gaels had eight corner kick chances in regulation but were called for offside six times.
Sophomore forward Lenworth Lopez wreaked havoc for LIU Brooklyn in both opening minutes of the overtime periods. In the first overtime period he had the lone shot on goal, and in the second he forced cross near the front of the net that nearly resulted in an own goal off a Blackbird defender.
Iona forced Sciola to make three saves in the overtime periods. All of the Maroon & Gold's shots in the extra time were on net. The Blackbirds did not have a single shot throughout overtime.
The Gaels and head coach James Hamilton continued its trend of tightly contested contests from 2017 when it had eight overtime contests and eight one-goal games.
Iona returns to action on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Binghamton. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm. The game is being broadcasted on ESPN .
Be sure to follow Iona College College athletics and men's soccer on all social media platforms:
ICGaels: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (Email Updates)
Iona Men's Soccer: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (Email Updates)