NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. – The Purple Eagles men’s soccer team and the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders engaged in a wild second-half shootout that featured five goals in just over 30 minutes. Despite two goals off of stellar passing plays, Niagara came out on the short end, falling 3-2 Friday afternoon in the first game of the season at Niagara Field.
· Final Score: NJIT 3, Niagara 2
· Niagara Goal Scorers: Mbongeni Tshuma (62’), Konrad Zydowicz (74’)
· Niagara Assists: Bautista Pedezert, Mackenzie Roach, Mbongeni Tshuma, Fabrizio Chiari
· In Goal: Steve Casey (1-2-1); 3 GA, 4 SV
· Records: Niagara (1-2-1), NJIT (3-1-1)
· Location: Niagara Field – Niagara Univ., N.Y.
· Attendance: 260
· Niagara had a chance to get on the board in the third minute as Konrad Zydowicz put a free kick from the right to the far side of the goal, but it was batted away by NJIT goalkeeper Marco Luna.
· Steve Casey made a point-blank save in the 15th minute off a chance from the right wing, and he also corralled a long chance from NJIT’s Mamadou Guirassy in the 31st minute.
· Near the close of the first half, Josh Tufino placed a beautiful crossing pass to the left of the goal box for Mackenzie Roach, who put a low header on the net, but Luna made the save.
· NJIT opened the scoring in the 52nd minute. A Niagara injury stoppage was followed by a Highlanders free kick, and defender Jonathan Onyeaka went over the Niagara defense for a header that found the back of the net.
· In the 62nd minute, Niagara came back to tie the game. Mackenzie Roach worked the ball out from the left corner, finding Bautista Pedezert at the top of the box. Pedezert, rather than shooting, touched a pass to a wide-open Mbongeni Tshuma, and the freshman beat the keeper to the right side for his first goal.
· NJIT’s Furkan Kokcu came back on the ensuing play and crossed a pass to Guirassy, who beat Casey high and to the near side for the 2-1 lead.
· The Purple Eagles got the crowd going in the 74th minute by tying the game. Fabrizio Chiari’s free kick was headed outside the box to Konrad Zydowicz, and the senior defender buried his opportunity on a short touch to the right side.
· Niagara failed to convert on a pair of corner kicks before NJIT scored the game-winning goal off of one just past the 83-minute mark. Rickardo Oldham picked up his second assist of the night as Stephen McGeever snuck behind the Niagara defense and headed a shot low past the outstretched arms of Casey.
· Head coach Bill Boyle: “We gave up too many sets today against a very big physical team. We have to do better after equalizing the game twice to stay focused and not let down. That five minutes after a goal is imperative, and we weren’t ready to step up our intensity. It is certainly a learning experience for all of us.”
Inside the Numbers
· For senior Konrad Zydowicz, his second-half tally was the first goal of his Niagara career. He also earned his first career assist in a 4-0 win over Robert Morris on Aug. 26.
· Mbongeni Tshuma’s three points (one goal, one assist) matched the effort by fellow freshman Absalom Solorio Villalpando at Robert Morris on Aug. 26.
· Mackenzie Roach moved to a team-best five points on the season with his assist on Tshuma’s goal.
· Niagara has yet to give up a first-half goal this season.
· Niagara has two home games in the week ahead, starting Sunday, Sept. 11 against the Saint Francis Red Flash. Opening kick from Niagara Field is set for 1 p.m.
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