Men’s Soccer Beats Lehman to Start Playoff Push

Photo by Pauline Park

The Ramapo men’s soccer team staggered to a 2-1 victory over the Lehman College Lightning on Monday evening at the Ramapo Athletic Complex. Non-conference opponents have not been a challenge for the Roadrunners this season, as they advance to 6-6-2 overall, with an unfortunate 0-4-1 record in the NJAC.

After pulling Lehman apart 7-1 last season, Head Coach DJ Pinton only had three points on his mind.

 “The game plan was to get a win; we have struggled lately so first and foremost was to try and get a win any way possible,” said Pinton.

Pinton’s squad didn’t waste any time as Freshman Jorge Castro linked up with Sophomore Justin Olaya for his sixth goal of the season in just the sixth minute of the match. Junior Kevin Monaghan started the sequence after winning a challenge in the middle of the field and delivering a ball to the feet of the playmaking Castro. With time and space, Castro picked out Olaya’s darting run down the left flank as he dusted his man and fired near the post and past Goalkeeper Jesus Marin. The Roadrunners worked the ball back and forth effortlessly and continued to create half-chances but lacked some individual creativity in threatening positions.

The game was crying out for some one-on-one attacks, and unfortunately, it came in the 30th minute from Lehman Sophomore Brandon Ruiz. After dancing his way through the Roadrunners defense, Ruiz was taken down inside the box and awarded a penalty shot.  Ramapo sophomore Goalkeeper Ryan Sprague guessed correctly but Ruiz’s placement was perfect as he slotted home the game-tying goal just minutes before the half.

Ramapo’s Senior Captain Rob Shalikar walked onto the pitch to start the second half. The Roadrunner skipper embodied the enforcer role as he suffocated any Lehman attempt at a counter. Shalikar consistently played the intelligent ball and allowed his fullbacks to push forward and attack at will. Justice was served in the 52nd minute as Shalikar put himself in the right place at the right time to knock in the game winner.

  “He gives us everything, his heart, he’s a great leader for the team, he attacked the goal, made a commitment to get to the ball and got his reward,” said Coach Pinton about Shalikar’s on-field effort.

After drawing a foul, Castro hovered over a 35-yard free kick on the right side of Lehman’s goal as players from both teams jockeyed for position in the box. Castro’s service, and second assist of the game, beat the wall and bounced inside the six where Shalikar was waiting to pounce as he slid his first goal of the season into the bottom right corner. 

The Roadrunners are currently sitting in a tie for seventh place with three conference games remaining. The Roadrunners will need help from some of their NJAC rivals but there are still tournament hopes to play for. Their next game is Saturday at 1:00 p.m. as they take on The College of New Jersey.