Raptors Men’s Soccer lose to Arcadia in opener

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The Rutgers University men’s soccer team suffered a heartbreaking loss, coming up one goal short to Arcadia University last night with a final score of 2-1.

Expectations were high for last night’s game as the players took to the field.  The Raptors had an impressive preseason, tying the defending D3 national champions, Messiah College.  A huge success for the team, the Raptors confirmed that they are able to play like a championship team and even bring home the title in the 2010 season.

Home opener for both teams, the Scarlet Raptors were aiming to add some positive morale to start the season off right.

From the beginning it was evident that Rutgers and Arcadia were evenly matched components.  Each team was playing with heart, moving the ball with fluidity and accuracy throughout the field.  Midway through the opening half, with an assist by Shane McGrory (Laurel Springs, NJ/Sterling), freshman forward Zaiere Putmon (Williamstown, NJ/Williamstown) completed the thrilling play with a shot from the right side, launching the ball into back left corner of the net against Arcadia’s freshman keeper Ryan Lantzy (Phoenixville, PA/Phoenixville).

The first half ended with an optimistic atmosphere as the Raptors held off Arcadia, leading by one goal.

The second half began with an early goal by Arcadia’s senior forward Joe Clementi (Medford Lakes, NJ/Shawnee).   Running up the left side, Clementi slipped the ball into the corner past the Raptor’s junior goalkeeper, Tim VanLiew (Deptford, NJ/Deptford).

With plenty of time left in the game both teams upped their physical play, battling back and forth.  The enthusiastic crowd watched as the referees ignored some plays that could be considered questionable.  In a game changing call in the 52nd minute, a direct kick by Arcadia’s freshman forward Nick Morris (Philadelphia, PA/Father Judge) snuck in a goal.  A shot from the left side, Morris was able to slip the ball under the cross bar just over VanLiew’s reach, pulling Arcadia ahead.
Home opener or not, the Raptors deserved to win this game.  With five minutes left of play, the defenders and mid-fielders were successful in keeping the ball on the opposite end of the field, setting the offense up with great opportunities.  Tensions were running high on the sidelines, as the Raptors’ fans were eager for a goal to tie it up.

It was a nail biting end to the game; the intensity in the offense was radiating off the field, players were vocal, fans were vocal, and we wanted to win.  The level of play peaked with great passing plays, good movement and more attacks on the goalie, giving the fans an optimistic hope that game would soon be tied.
With less than a minute left to play, the Raptors offense were crashing the net left and right, firing the ball high and low trying to knock a shot off on goal.  Arcadia launched the ball out of bounds in the Raptors’ end; once the ball came into play, time ran out ending the game with a disappointing loss for Rutgers.

An obvious letdown, the Raptors should still keep their heads up and shake this game off.  The fans are keeping a positive outlook for the Scarlet Raptors’ upcoming season; Ekene Sibeudu, a freshman at Rutgers, described the team’s drive during the game saying, “the team played with a lot of soul.”

Athletic Director Jeffery Dean spoke about the up and coming team.

“With Coach Oswald’s recruiting, the new talent combined with returning players will increase energy and enthusiasm on the field.”

This is apparent, as Putmon began his career with the Raptors tonight, proving to be a huge presence on the field adding to the chemistry of the team.

This year’s team is being led by captains Steve Shincarick (Mays Landing, NJ/ Oakcrest) and Shane McGrory (Laurel Springs, NJ/Sterling).  The Raptors have high expectations for themselves in 2010, which should be demonstrated this weekend as the Raptors travel to Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.  The Scarlet Raptors take on Brangeis University at 2:30 pm.

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