The Ramapo Roadrunners men’s soccer team suffered a 3-0 home loss at the hands of the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders yesterday. With the loss Ramapo drops to 6-4-2 on the season and 0-2-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, while Rutgers improves to a 10-2-0 record and a perfect 3-0 in the NJAC.
Rutgers started the game as the aggressor, pressing Ramapo high up the pitch and getting some early opportunities. Ramapo remained composed and was able to exploit some open space down the right flank. Just six minutes in, Ramapo freshman Kevin Villanueva created the best chance of the half as he flicked the ball over a Rutgers defender and slipped Ramapo freshman Justin Olaya in behind the defense.
Rutgers junior goalkeeper, Matt Broomall, came off his line and made himself big as he stonewalled Olaya twice on the play. The Roadrunners continued to string together positive passing sequences and control possession.
The breakthrough for Rutgers came at the 12 minute mark as sophomore midfielder Tyler Nowak was able to get on the end of a corner kick and put it in the back of the net.
Ramapo responded admirably to the early deficit and the team began to feed off the industrial play of freshman Malik Lopes. Coach Pinton had modest praise for his young midfield anchor.
“Our junior captain [Rob Shalikar] is out for the season,” Pinton said. “So [Malik] stepped into his role and played very well. He’s keeping himself composed for a freshman.”
The second half started with some very sloppy play from Ramapo’s back line. Rutgers freshman striker Chigozie Atubi did not get his name on the tally sheet but was wreaking havoc on Ramapo’s defense, using his speed to find space in behind and being decidedly shifty while in possession.
At the 54 minute mark, Atubi’s persistence led to a corner kick and a second Rutgers goal from sophomore Charlie O’Connell. With Ramapo’s standout 6-foot-4-inch freshman center back Modou Sowe sidelined with an injury, the Roadrunners struggled mightily in defending set pieces.
“Not having [Sowe] out there was huge, he controls the area,” Pinton added. “The last three games we’ve let up two set piece goals so it's definitely something we need to improve on.”
Ramapo failed to respond with the proper intensity recording only three shots on goal the entire game. The nail in the coffin came at the 84 minute mark as Rutgers sophomore Dylan Elias scored the third and final goal of the match.
Ramapo got caught ball watching and lost Elias as he streaked into the left side of the box after a sequence of delicate one touch ball movement.
Ramapo has seven conference games remaining and plenty of time to right the ship. Pinton fears the inexperience of this team will be a factor in the tough conference schedule to come.
“I’m a little worried, they’re very young,” he said. “They are going to grow up very quick and hopefully do a better job in future games.”
Ramapo’s next match is away to Rowan on Oct. 4.