CCSU Soccer Drops Second NEC Match-Up

By Danny Contreras

The Blue Devils lost their second Northeast Conference game, 2-0, against Sacred Heart University following a right footed free-kick from Marcello Castro in the first half, and a unassisted goal from Brian Francolini in the second half.

Following the loss, the Blue Devils remain in first place in the NEC men’s soccer league standings with 15 points out of a possible 21. They are tied at the top with Monmouth, who has 15 points of its own, but they have a better head-to-head record than that of the Blue Devils.

“The momentum was all us when [Castro] scored the free-kick. The final finish wasn’t clicking. We had two good looks at the goal that we should’ve scored,” said Head Coach Shaun Green. “I think we were the better team overall in terms of possession. We dominated most of it. [The team] had two incidents, [one], a free-kick which is a rare mistake by Tony [Occhialini] who didn’t handle the ball.”

The first half started with complete Blue Devils possession for the first fifteen minutes of play. CCSU tested the goalkeeper  with a solo effort from NEC Rookie of the Week, Eddy Bogle. Bogle broke away from three defenders to get a one-on-one situation with Fait Alex who dove to the right side of post, but his effort went wide.

Following Bogle’s attack, Reece Wilson took a chance on goal from 20 yards out, but saw his effort go high of the bar.

The Blue Devils had another great opportunity to take the lead as Jesse Menzies ran the ball down the left side of the post and crossed it for Thomas Obasi, whose efforts were once again saved by Alex.

As much as CCSU controlled the game, however, the Pioneers drew a foul from 15-yards. The Blue Devils set up a four man wall with a gap in the between the players, which Castro capitalized on to score. His right-footed effort sliced the ball from the right, curled in between the Blue Devil defenders, and stopped in the hands of CCSU keeper, Occhialini, but, he couldn’t keep the shot out and SHU led the match 1-0 at halftime.

The second half started and the Blue Devils kept controlling the game getting a couple of clear chances. One of them came courtesy of an Ognen Stamenkovik and Bogle who combined in the Pioneer box. The SHU keeper fumbled the ball, but it their stubborn defense kept the ball out of the net.

As soon as the chance came, a defensive mistake in the CCSU half allowed SHU to score as Brian Francolini marked Mamoudou Dioubate in the center field to take a high ball from Artur Jorge and slot the ball into the empty net. Dioubate tried clearing the ball with a header but misjudged the height. Occhialini came out for the bal,l but Jorge’s quick feet dribbled it past him and allowed him a clear chance on goal which he scored.

“They’re a tough defensive team. They sat a lot behind the ball. Next at home we have Quinnipiac, we need to win in order to make the play-offs. We have three games left and we need to win one in order to make the play-offs,” said Green.

The Blue Devils kept pressuring the Pioneers’ defense, but they could not come up with any answers. M. Dioubate was moved to a center striker role but the SHU defense adjusted accordingly. The match ended shortly thereafter, and gave the Blue Devils its second NEC loss.

“We have to focus right now and win the next game. Our team is playing well, you know, they still have a lot of confidence and, I felt today the scoreboard didn’t reflect the better team, and I think Central was the better team,” said Green. “We’re still in first place, though, and next week we have the opportunity to make the play-offs.”

The team will take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats this Friday at Willowbrook at 3 p.m. followed by a trip to Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. They will return home on November 4th against St. Francis (N.Y.).