The University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team failed to convert in a 1-0 loss to Lehigh last night, their first home defeat of the season.
The Rams fall to 1-3-1 on the year and have been shut out in two consecutive games, dropping a 3-0 matchup with Boston College last Sunday.
“Unfortunately it was a game of two halves,” said Coach Gareth Elliott. “We didn’t come out fast and they did, and they outworked us in the first half. In the second half we came out a lot better and played a lot better. Maybe we deserved to get something out of the second half of the game, but you can’t play a game for 45 minutes, you’ve got to play for 90 [minutes] so overall it’s a disappointing result.”
Lehigh forward Doyle Tuvesson scored the deciding goal in the 11th minute, and goalkeeper Ciaran Nugent made a save on Carlos Davids’ header shot with three seconds left to seal the victory. The first shot-on-goal for the Rams didn’t come until the 57th minute and they were held to just four attempts all night.
The Rams slow start may have resulted from the five days of rest since their last game, but Elliott said the time off did not play a factor in the team’s struggles.
“I just think we came out flat,” said Elliott. “They’re a fit team and they work hard and they press and we knew that before the game. We didn’t deal with the press very well early on and we didn’t really compete in the first half. When you don’t compete, you don’t win a lot of soccer games.”
The defense kept the Rams’ hopes alive in the second half of the game. Goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm had five saves, allowing Rhode Island to pick up the aggressiveness and get into a rhythm on offense.
The Rams had seven corner kicks on the night, three coming in the second half, but Nugent proved too much after stopping all four Rhode Island attempts in the final 33 minutes.
“Nils had a great game for us today and made some great saves for us in the first half to keep us in the game,” said Elliott. “But Falko [Friedrichs] got injured tonight, Wesley [Matthews] was starting and Oscar [Soons] is coming back from an injury. So we’ve got to find out who’s healthy for the rest of the year but the defense did a decent job after the first half.”
Despite picking up intensity in the second half, the Rams got in their own way, committing 10 fouls and missing a point-blank rebound shot early in the second half. Elliott said it was important for his team to move forward and equal the work ethic of their opponent.
The Rams look to bounce back from the loss tomorrow when they host Yale at 4 p.m. at the Kingston Soccer Complex.
“I hope to see a win,” Elliott said. “I hope to see a few balls go in the back of the net. Getting shut out at home is not something we’re very pleased about, but I’d like to get another shutout, score a few goals and overall play more of a complete 90 minutes.”