EAST BOSTON – Despite leveling the playing field early on in the second half, the Suffolk men's soccer team could not overcome back-to-back Newbury goals as the Nighthawks spoiled the Rams season opener, 3-2, Thursday afternoon at James A. Sartori Stadium at East Boston Memorial Park.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Newbury (1-0) notched the first tally of the day late in the first half, Suffolk (0-1) evened the score early in the second. The Nighthawks put away back-to-back goals within a 14 minute span to put the game away. The Rams made a last ditch effort, scoring a header, but it came with only seconds remaining leaving no time for a complete comeback.
- Alex Straffer dribbled up the right sideline with Ram defenders in front and on the side. The freshman forward lost the defenders and made a sliding shot around the 8-yard mark. The rock went to the far left and hit the back of the netting to put the Nighthawks on the scoreboard at the 32 minute mark.
- A new game surfaced when Alberto Bittan knotted the score just nine minutes into the second stanza. The senior forward battled with a Nighthawks defender down to the right end line. Bittan won the tangle, kept the ball in play and positioned himself for the perfect first goal of the season, a ball tucked nicely in the left side.
- Darwood Antoine finally capitalized on his many attempts and he did so at the opportune time. The sophomore forward used a dribble move to tie up the feet of a Rams defender 15-yards in front of Suffolk's net. Antoine's third shot of the day, second on target, proved to be the difference as it sailed into the back of the mesh.
- Straffer struck again at 86:02. Right in front of Kyle Van Cleef, a two-on-one situation occurred with Alex Davis pulling the Rams defender towards him, slipped Straffer the ball on the right side and Straffer tucked his second goal of the day and season away.
- Trailing 3-1 with time ticking away, the Rams made one final effort at a comeback. Jordan Casey lofted a cross field ball right to Bittan, who made the perfect header connection to slip past Jarrod Smith and make it a 3-2 game with seconds remaining.
KEEPING UP WITH THE KEEPERS
- In his debut in blue-and-gold, Van Cleef faced seven shots, stopping four and giving up three goals.
- Jarrod Smith proved to be a reliable backstop for the Nighthawks with the sophomore saving 80 percent (8-10) of the shots he faced.
- Bittan is the first Ram to notch two goals in one game since Juan Lazcano Bello did so against Norwich November 11, 2011.
- Newbury notched its first victory over Suffolk in the series history, which dates back to 2004, but the Rams lead the all-time series 2-1.
- The Nighthawks notched their first goals against the Rams after being shutout in the previous two meetings.
Suffolk takes two days off before returning to Eastie to host UMass Dartmouth. The Rams and Corsairs battle at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4.