Siena Soccer’s eye-opening start to the 2014 season included another statement win Sunday. Sophomore transfer Junior Rosero scored the golden goal in the 107th minute as the Saints defeated Portland 2-1 in double overtime at the Henson/Zaher Nike Classic at Ronaldo Field at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
“I thought it was a courageous win on our part,” said head coach Cesar Markovic. “Portland is a program with a tremendous amount of tradition and a very, very tough team that has played an extremely challenging schedule. We made a cross country trip and met all the challenges placed in front of us head on. We lost the first game, although played tremendous and were able to do what good teams do which is bounce back and win with a big victory today.”
Siena (5-1) finished second at the Tournament which included Henson/Zaher Nike Classic Champion Oregon State, Duquesne and Portland (1-2-3). Freshmen Josh Weiss and Alexander Tejera and sophomore captain Danilo Markovic were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Both teams had plenty of chances as Portland out-shot the Saints 22-19 with Siena holding a 9-7 edge in corners. But both keepers played spectacularly with Weiss making a season-high 12 saves and the Pilots’ Paul Christensen made nine stops. Both keepers were big when it counted the most, making three saves apiece during the overtime periods.
Sophomore David Itoafa opened the scoring for the Saints just 61 seconds before the halftime horn. Siena’s leading scorers Tom Allen and Alexander Tejera set up Itoafa’s first goal of the year. Portland knotted the score in the 56th minute on a Michael Escobar header.
In a physical match that featured 30 fouls, a whopping 13 cards were issued. The biggest violation came in the 83rd minute when the Pilots’ Dustin Munger was issued a red card. As a result, Portland was forced to play a man short the rest of the way which opened things up for the Saints’ offense. Siena attempted nine shots in the final 24 minutes and it was only a matter of time before they broke through for the winner.
With just three and a half minutes left in the final overtime, Allen and Tejera again combined to set up the decisive tally. Allen made a 30-yard run into the box and fed the ball to Tejera who in turn battled through several defenders and dished off to Rosero who blasted home the golden goal inside the far post.
The victory was yet another key achievement early in the season for a Siena team which is off to the best start in the program’s 41 seasons. The Saints, which received 12 votes in the latest NSCAA Top-25 Poll, defeated 23rd ranked Boston University earlier this season. Like the Saints both Oregon State, whom the Saints lost to 1-0 in the Tournament opener Friday night, and Portland were both receiving votes in this week’s Top-25 Poll.
“There have been some real good early signs so far on our part,” added Markovic. “This is a group of guys who are not intimidated by their opposition and who are ready to play and compete against anyone. The purpose of playing this tough of a schedule was to really challenge our young group and they have really met that challenge head on.”
Siena will continue to be challenged as it continues its program record six-match road trip at the CU Inaria Classic next weekend. The Saints play at Cornell Friday night at 7 p.m. and at Colgate Sunday at 2 p.m.