Playing at home for the first time in a little more than two weeks, the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team suffered an unsettling loss to Fordham this past Saturday night.
After 90 minutes of play and the referee’s final whistle, Fordham’s two goals forced the second loss in a row, upon the men’s soccer team.
The Rams entered the game ranked sixth in the Atlantic 10 conference with a record of 3-1-1 in conference play. Their most recent loss was to Massachusetts on Thursday night, losing 2-1 in overtime. The loss to Massachusetts was the first loss that Rhody faced since Sept. 2.
Within the first eight minutes of play, Fordham pressed hard with two shots on goal as the Rhody defense struggled to keep up. Stagnant play would occur for the next 16 minutes as the two teams moved the ball around, passing across the field.
URI rebounded in the 23rd minute, after senior goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm saved another Fordham goal attempt, and laid the ball out perfectly for junior Chae Brangman, allowing a quick-paced run down the sideline towards the Fordham goal. Brangman’s shot went high, soaring over the top of the crossbar.
The Ram’s next greatest chance came in the 37th minute, as the ball was within Fordham’s 18-yard box, but a cluster of defensive and offensive players stopped any score. At the half, the score was 0-0.
As the players took the field for the second half, “I Don’t Like it, I Love it” by Flo Rida played in the background. For the first three minutes and 20 seconds of the second half, Rhode Island had total control of the ball, but a few short minutes later, a hard shot by Fordham sailed into the far-right corner of the net over Leifhelm.
Uneventful play occurred for six minutes following the goal, until the 57th minute when sophomore forward Stavros Zarakostas had a nasty collision with Fordham’s Joergen Olands resulted in a yellow card.
“It was a 50/50 ball and I went in pretty hard and I ended up coming a little late, and I caught his foot,” said Zarakostas.
The Rams had no shots on goal in the second half until the 66th minute, where they received two corner kicks within 45 seconds of one another, both of which were cleared by Fordham. With only nine minutes left in the game, Fordham’s Jannik Loebe went on a breakaway run towards the URI goal breaking through two defenders.
Loebe would go one-on-one with Leifhelm, pounding the ball hard into the dead center of the net. Rhode Island played aggressively the rest of the game, but failed to score. Their best opportunity came with just four minutes left as the final corner kick of the game was touched once by Zarakostas, but cleared past midfield by Fordham.
“The ball came right in front of me, and I tried to tap it right into the corner, but the defender was in a really good position,” said Zarakostas.
The Rams have a full week off before facing VCU this Saturday. “We’re going to continue to try and get better and mentally get back to where we were a few weeks ago when we were winning games and on a bit of a streak,” said head coach Gareth Elliott. The Rams standing in the Atlantic 10 was unaffected by this loss.