MOON TOWNSHIP — RMU Men’s Soccer (3-8-2, 2-2-1 NEC) lost in overtime on Friday against the Bryant Bulldogs (6-3, 3-0 NEC) by a final score of 2-1. The two halves were very different stories for RMU and goaltender Michael Zolnierczyk kept the Colonials in the game.
The first half was the better half for RMU. The Colonials and Bulldogs were engaged in back-and-forth action from the very beginning. Bryant had some good chances in the first couple of minutes, and RMU had a quality opportunity on a free-kick six minutes in, but the game remained scoreless until 15 minutes in. With a corner kick heading in, Riccardo Rota deflected it in and notched his fourth goal of the season.
Things got heated in the 23rd-minute and frustrations began to show. Yellow cards were handed out to Alex DaCosta and Victor Rey of Bryant and Noah Elamin of RMU. Bulldog goalkeeper, Oliver Larente, stopped what would have been a tap-in goal in the 30th-minute by playing aggressive and running out of his box. Zolnierczyk had an outstanding save of his own 36 minutes in to keep the score at 1-0. That score would carry into halftime, with the shots being 6-5 in favor of RMU.
At the start of the second half, Bryant came out strong and maintained control. In the 51st-minute, Alex DaCosta tied the game, and the Bulldogs never looked back. Sloppy defensive play and sustained pressure by Bryant led to the Michael Zolnierczyk show for the remainder of the half.
A free-kick 60 minutes in was stopped by Zolnierczyk, followed by another save eight minutes later. At 32 minutes into the second half, RMU finally picked up their first shot of the half. Zolnierczyk was shaken up after stopping a free kick in the 88th-minute, but he got back up and played on. The second half ended with the teams knotted 1-1, with the total shots being 14-8 Bryant.
In overtime, only one shot was registered, but it was the most important of them all. Alex Dacosta picked up his second goal of the game and the overtime-winning goal off a free-kick that took a Bryant bounce and ended up in the RMU goal.
When asked for his thoughts on the game, Coach Bill Denniston kept it simple, saying, “We had heard Bryant had changed their ways and were going to play soccer, and I’d say they did that in the first half. In the second half, they looked like Bryant. Kick it down your face, kick you, kick everything else, play hard, and hope for the best. Disappointing.”
On a follow-up question of how RMU will adjust and prepare for their next game, he replied, “I don’t think we learned anything from that game. The first half was pretty good. What did we learn from the second half? Nothing, so it’ll have no bearing on the next game.”
RMU recorded their second conference loss, and they will look to rebound in the next game. The Colonials will face the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (5-3-1, 1-2 NEC) at Brooklyn Heights in their next game on Oct. 20.