MOON TOWNSHIP– The RMU men’s soccer team (2-6-1, 1-0) successfully won their first NEC conference match of the season against Mount St. Mary’s (3-4-0, 0-1) in a 1-0 victory. The Colonials came into today looking to get their first victory since September 12 and start NEC play on a high note. That’s not to say that the Colonials had it easy though, as they faced a capable Mount St. Mary’s team who was up to the challenge RMU posed. “I think today there was a lot more pressure, more physical as well,” said Lorenzo Guagneli.
The first half of today’s game was very back and forth momentum wise between the two squads, with both RMU and MSM trading chances. RMU led in the shot department 8-4 at the end of the first, but they were down on shots on goal 3-2. Luckily, freshman goalie Mike Zolnierczyk was there to make some big saves early to keep the score at 0-0. Coach Denniston said that Zolnierczyk will likely start the next match and that “I’ve been waiting for somebody to step up and he [has].”
Another player who stepped up for the Colonials today was another freshman, this time forward Ethan Romito. Romito put up a season-high five shots against the Mount, and although none ended up going in, he was impressive in the effort he showed. His play continued to improve going into the second half, though it got off to a rough start when Mount Saint Mary’s Marcos Lucero put a ball just above the net, failing to convert on a great opportunity. The physical play would also continue throughout the second half and both sides traded possession after possession with each other, failing to convert on any major chances.
That all changed for the Colonials, however, in the 79th-minute, when a cross came in on goal for The Mount. In the area was a Mount St. Mary’s defender and goaltender, as well as an RMU forward pressuring. The ball took a glance off the defender and into the net it went, giving the Colonials a lucky 1-0 lead. Riccardo Rota was credited with the goal; his second of the year.
The Colonials continued playing solid defense and didn’t let the Mount get set up at all in the offensive zone until time expired. When asked about what improvements his team has made since the start of the year, Coach Denniston replied that “I think we are making less mistakes. We were throwing away goals at the beginning of the year, and that’s how you lose.” The Colonials posted their first clean sheet of the season this year and were impressive on defense throughout the game. Still, the Colonials hope for more on the offensive front. “[I] think we should try some more setpieces and try something different on our corners and try to score from out free kicks,” said Guagneli.
The Colonials look to capitalize on their momentum and improve to 2-0 in the NEC when Fairleigh Dickinson (4-3-0, 0-0) comes to the North Athletic Complex on Sunday.