Men’s Soccer Ties Stockton in NJAC Opener

Photos by Justin Roth

The men’s soccer team earned a point in the New Jersey Athletic Conference standings with a 3-3 tie against Richard Stockton College on Saturday.

The Roadrunners nearly suffered a soul-crushing defeat in their first NJAC game of the season, but sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Hernandez came up with a vital save on a Stockton penalty kick with under 10 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

“It’s huge, it preserves a point and we need points in this league,” said Ramapo head coach DJ Pinton of Hernandez’s penalty kick save. “He saved us basically one point there.”

The game-preserving save came after a wild last 10 minutes of action that saw both teams find the net. With just eight minutes left, Ramapo freshman Kevin Villanueva blasted a shot into the upper 90 on an assist from sophomore Christian Trujillo to put the Roadrunners up 3-2.

The Roadrunners could not hold the late lead, and Stockton sophomore Anthony Colofranson scored his second goal of the game to tie the score at the 84:21 mark.

“We knew that they were going to come at us pretty hard and lob a lot of balls into the box,” Pinton said of the final minutes in regulation play. “Unfortunately we had the ball bounce around the area and sometimes you’re unfortunate and it falls to the wrong person. He puts it away, and they get the tying goal.”

Ramapo’s freshman talent led the offensive effort in this game, as Villanueva and fellow freshmen Modou Sowe and Justin Olaya each scored in the game.

Olaya scored his fourth goal of the season 15 minutes into the game, capitalizing off a scramble situation in the box following a Ramapo shot on goal. Sowe scored his seventh goal of the season on a similar scramble that led to Olaya’s goal. The 6-foot-4-inch defender stepped in to put a shot past Stockton goalkeeper, senior Bobby Varga at 56:32.

Pinton stressed how valuable these three freshman and the team’s other young players will be toward success now and in the future.

“For them to jump into the NJAC as freshmen and be productive, you can’t say much more,” Pinton said. “It’s a fantastic start for them, hopefully they continue that throughout the rest of the season. We’re a very young team as it is. We have a bunch of sophomores and freshmen, so they are going to be key integral parts going forward.”

With the tie, both teams are now 0-0-1 in the NJAC this season. The Roadrunners' next NJAC matchup will be on Saturday, when they visit the William Paterson Pioneers.

Pinton and his team plan to make a return to the NJAC post-season tournament this year, which would be the first time since 2010 for the team.

“My expectations are always set high. We talk about it in the locker room. We want to exceed expectations,” said Pinton, the Roadrunners' bench boss for the past 11 seasons. “I didn’t look at the preseason poll, but Stockton is, I think, listed to finish up top. We’re on the bottom. 3-3 shows that we belong.”