When the men’s soccer team (1-2) headed into its match against Manhattan last year, it was singing a different tune. In the Lions’ first two games of 2012, which they dropped, they were finding it difficult to generate chances and still experimenting to find a lineup that could click.
This year, the situation is a little brighter. Although the Lions again lost their first two games, they put together a good performance in their home opener, and will look to make it two in a row against Manhattan (0-4) Wednesday night.
Manhattan, after opening its season with three consecutive road losses, dropped its home opener on Friday to LIU Brooklyn, 2-0. After being outscored 37-12 in 16 games in 2012, the Jaspers have already been outscored 11-3. Freshman Daniel Laguna Kennedy has managed to add a little scoring punch to the offense. The Spanish forward is averaging two shots on goal per game, with a pair of goals already.
On Saturday, the Light Blue topped Iona 2-1. Senior midfielder David Najem—a year after going scoreless on three shots on goal—tallied his second goal on his fourth shot on net of the season early in the match. Sophomore midfielder Antonio Matarazzo’s strike in the 62nd minute from the top of the box stood up as the game-winner.
“We were just so excited to finally be back on home turf,” junior back Jack Gagné said. “We knew we needed this win after the start of our season.”
Players both returning and new chipped in to create the goals, with senior midfielder Henning Sauerbier and freshmen Andrew Tinari, Rhys Williams, and Nicholas Pappacena all making key plays leading to the goals. In addition to Sauerbier, Najem, and senior striker Will Stamatis, Tinari and Pappacena played most of the game and were frequently involved in the offense, providing support for the upperclassmen core. Sauerbier said this support may have been missing last season.
“This year, we have a lot of creativity. We created so many chances in the last three games,” he said. “That’s what makes me very optimistic about this season … If we get more repetition, more rhythm, we will be great.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Columbia Soccer Stadium.