Men’s soccer draws against Fairleigh Dickinson in a battle of attrition


Photo credit: David Auth

Zachary Somma, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– The RMU men’s soccer team (2-6-2, 1-0-1) played 110 minutes of action against Fairleigh Dickinson (4-3-1, 0-0-1) on Sunday, but both teams failed to produce a goal; leading to a 0-0 draw. Though the Colonials stay undefeated in NEC play this season, they had their chances this game that could’ve had them go 2-0-0 in the NEC.

The game featured an extremely fast-pace throughout from both teams, as they traded possession and chances quickly. Both squads had opportunities, both on fastbreaks as well as longer and more drawn-out possessions in the offensive zone. Still, both defenses and keepers were up to the task of shutting down these chances. Freshman Mike Zolnierczyk got his second start in a row in goal for the Colonials, as he looks to have taken over the starting keeper job for the time being. When asked about how the goalie situation has improved his game, Zolnierczyk said that “The competition between all four of us… we’ve all pushed each other to work harder and to get better because at the end of the day we are all working for the same team and the same goal.”

The first half ended with both teams tied on shots with ten apiece, with both defenses doing a good job at keeping chances largely to the perimeter. Forward Cristian Palermo, who would end the game with four shots, said that FDU’s defense “stayed tight and had very good shape, so we had a hard time breaking them down…”

The second half went much of the same way the first half did, albeit with an increasing amount of intensity and physicality. Fairleigh Dickinson did a slightly better job on possession in the half, though Zolnierczyk was there to make up for any defensive lapses that RMU had. The Colonials came oh so close to winning the game with around ten minutes to go in the second half when Palermo had a ball deflect just enough off of the FDU keeper and off the crossbar, sending it over the net. “I just saw [Riccardo Rota] play the ball over… and I got to it and I chipped it and the goalie made a great save… nothing I can do about it,” said Palermo.

The game then entered its two overtime periods and the Colonials looked and played very fatigued throughout both of them. Coach Denniston remarked that “[FDU] didn’t play Friday and we did and it looked like that in overtime. We just didn’t have anything left…” Still, despite numerous FDU chances towards the end of overtime, the Colonials stayed strong enough on defense to sneak out a draw, 0-0. Denniston was pleased with his team’s performance, as when asked about what the team could’ve done differently to win today, he responded simply and jokingly that “Palermo could have scored instead of hitting the goalie and the crossbar.”

The Colonials are now 1-0-1 in NEC play this year, and they look to improve that record when they make their first NEC road trip of the year to take on Merrimack (3-3-1, 1-0-0) on Friday.