COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's soccer team dropped its home opener in heartbreaking fashion Wednesday night, losing to Neumann, 1-0.
The decisive goal came with just under three minutes left to play. The Bears (2-2) committed a foul just outside the box, setting up a free kick for Neumann's Marlon Trejo, who blasted the shot through the dense fog atop Patterson Field and into the back of the net.
Freshman goalie Matthew Kenwood had the shot go past him, but he made an impressive save earlier in the half, blocking a line drive about waist-level to his right. The rookie relieved starting keeper, junior Brandon Lillian, after halftime. Lillian had recorded a pair of saves including a diving-stop on a shot that was destined for the lower right corner. Lillian's save came just 1:07 after he pulled in a headed attempt that Neumann (1-3) manufactured after a corner kick.
Kenwood and Lillian were the Bears' only two keepers to play on the night, but sophomore Rocco Mesoraca came up with a save of his own to keep the game scoreless with 25 minutes left in the match. Neumann's Christian Cortese blitzed though the Ursinus defense and sent a shot towards the net when Mesoraca's left foot parried the ball out of harm's way.
Shortly after Mesoraca's highlight, freshman Alexis Ayala did his best to get the Bears on the board, weaving his way through the Knights' defense and ripping a left-footed shot that Neumann keeper Perry Corsetti reeled in.
Ursinus was able to put together one final attack with less than 1:30 left on the clock when junior John Romero fired a shot that Corsetti stopped.
Neither team had too much action in the offensive end. The two squads combined for nine shots on goal, many of which were easy saves for the keepers. Both defenses played well, each blocking shots and breaking up potential scoring chances.
Defensive positioning was key for the Ursinus back line. The Bears caught Neumann offside eight times in the game, including six in the first half. The Knights had one of two would-be goals called back due to their errors. Midway through the first half, Neumann sent a lob into the box that was blasted into the back of the net, but the referee's flag wiped the goal off the board.
Another Knights' score was erased at just about the same time in the second half when a Neumann attacker slid into the ball while Kenwood was arriving at the same time. The ball bounced away from Kenwood, allowing the attacker to pop up and tap the ball into the open net as the referee blew his whistle.
The Bears took 11 shots – four of which were on goal. Junior Justin Molyneaux fired a team-high three shots, with one on target. The Bears demonstrated their discipline as well, playing the entire match without getting called for offside, and only committing six fouls compared to Neumann's 13.
Ursinus returns to action on Satuday when the Bears travel to McDaniel to open Centennial Conference play. They return home, opening up three games in a row at Patterson Field, starting with Kean on September 20.