Colonials cruise to victory thanks to big second half


Zachary Somma, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– The RMU men’s soccer team (4-9-2, 3-3-1 NEC) got back on the winning track in dominant fashion with a 5-1 blowout win over the Sacred Heart Pioneers (2-9-2, 1-3-2 NEC).

Despite the one-sided score, the game started off slow for the Colonials in the first half. Though they controlled most of the possession throughout the first half, it was the Pioneers who would find the back of the net first, after a free-kick rebounded out to CJ Weinhart who shot it past RMU keeper Grant Glorioso.

Despite the setback, the Colonials kept up the pressure and had some great scoring opportunities from Christian Coridon and Michael Pettiti, but both were turned away by Sacred Heart keeper Robert Strain. With the Colonials down 1-0 after the first, RMU needed to make adjustments and get their heads in the game.

“Going into halftime 1-0 down… Coach [Denniston] really lit a fire under us at halftime… that we have to be more desperate to score [and] to get in behind,” said Michael Pettiti. Roald Aas Ravlum also said that at halftime “We said that we can win this… we just need to tighten up and play wider and get the chances and I think we did that very well.”

And get the chances they did, as the Colonials exploded on the offensive front from halftime onwards. Matt Cillo got things started two minutes into the second half when Pettiti beat Sacred Heart’s keeper to a loose ball and put it in front for Cillo to bury in a wide-open cage. A mere three minutes later, Ravlum would give his team the lead after a beautiful corner set-piece from Christian Palermo gave him an easy shot past Strain.

Onando Collins would score the next goal for RMU 12 minutes later after Ravlum was left wide open on the right-wing side and was patient enough to outwait Strain and feed Collins for another easy goal.

Jon Faynik scored his first collegiate goal to make it 4-1 in the 77th-minute, again from a wide-open right-wing attack from the Colonials. This prompted some extra pressure from the Pioneers near the end of the match.

However, the Colonials made another adjustment at halftime, switching out Grant Glorioso for freshman keeper Keaton Jennings, who got his first action as a Colonial. When asked if he expected to be put into the game today, Jennings said “Not at all… I knew there was the possibility… so you got to stay prepared and be mentally strong for your opportunity.”

Jennings made the most of his opportunity. Though he only had to make three saves in his 45 minutes of action, Jennings stopped some grade A chances that kept Sacred Heart from making any sort of comeback, including a penalty kick with 10 minutes to go. “I waited it out and didn’t sell myself out, and dove the other way he looked…” Jennings said with a smile.

With solid play from Jennings down the stretch, the Colonials closed out the game in style, with Petitti scoring off a wonderful cutback move in the final minute, giving us a final score of 5-1.

It was an important game for the Colonials to get a win in, after dropping their last two, keeping them very much alive in the hunt for an NEC Tournament spot. With only two matches to go in the season, the Colonials move right back into contention with their 3-3-1 conference record. When asked if the team believes that they can make the playoffs, Pettiti responded confidently, “Absolutely, for sure, we plan on doing it next week against LIU.”

Jennings said, “Of course… this was a big win today, we went down 1-0 and we came back so strong and this is something we can carry on and make that tournament.” Finally, and maybe most convincingly, Ravlum bluntly responded, “After a 5-1 win, anything’s possible.”

The Colonials playoff hopes largely ride on their next match next Friday against LIU (6-6-1, 3-1-1 NEC), as it is likely the winner of the next match will make major leeway in clinching a spot in the NEC tournament.