The NYU men’s soccer team pulled out a thriller Wednesday night, besting New Jersey foe William Paterson University in a penalty kick shootout in its first Eastern College Athletic Conference game by a tally of 4-3.
Sophomore goalkeeper Lucas Doucette was in top form, refusing to be beaten all night in what was an onslaught of shots from the Pioneers. Doucette’s night culminated in an exemplary diving save in the shootout, following a whizzing miss over the top crossbar by sophomore forward Reece Barton. Sophomore midfielder and captain Petter Aasa, freshman midfielder Vegas Kastberg, sophomore midfielder Ryan Cerqueria and senior midfielder and captain Mickey Ingerman all converted on their penalties to put the pressure on WPU.
Despite a line up of nearly all freshmen and sophomores, with Ingerman as the exception, the Violets looked calm, cool and collected, repeatedly taking smart penalty kicks that tricked opposing goalkeeper Mike Diacheysn. Approaching the shootout, Diacheysn looked less confident than Doucette, who had saved 13 shots to Diachesyn’s two in the match.
Regular time was more or less owned by the Pioneers, who turned a few NYU mistakes into viable goal-scoring opportunities. They outshot the Violets by an astounding 25-11 overall, including a 13-5 edge in shots on goal. But it was Doucette turning WPU away on all 13 of their shots on goal that ultimately led to the Violets’ success. Down the stretch of the overtime period, the ball remained almost exclusively in the attacking third for WPU, as the opponent threatened time and time again. Resilient defense by NYU’s backline kept the Pioneers from scoring a devastating late goal. The Violets defense could only do so much, however, as WPU came within inches of scoring on two occasions.
The first chance was a breakthrough to the left side of the box by WPU forward Juan Londono, who took a long touch to get the ball to his left foot, where he promptly struck a shot that Doucette could only get a hand on and deflect away. Doucette’s deflection sent the ball ricocheting off the top post, where it went straight down, bounced off the goal line and miraculously stayed out of the net. The defense went into crisis management mode, clearing the ball only to have another WPU screamer carom off the post just a few minutes later. When the game reached the shootout stage, there was a feeling of relief on the NYU sideline.
Ingerman was thrilled with the resilience and progress the team made Wednesday night.
“We really learned from our experiences in the past couple of UAA games,” Ingerman said. “In those games we defended well and unfortunately gave up late goals. Lucas came up huge on several saves. Once we got to penalties, everyone was confident that we would win.”
Ingerman also expressed the elation of the team after such an emotional win.
“The energy after the game was phenomenal,” he said. “As a team, we felt that we hadn’t lived up to our potential by not making the NCAA tournament, but today we showed that the team does have significant potential and will be a threat in the coming years.”
Aasa touted Doucette’s performance and the efforts of the defensive players.
“We were under a lot of pressure defensively, and Lucas and our two senior defenders were playing out of their skins tonight,” Aasa said. “They kept us from conceding a goal.”
Doucette expressed his excitement at the end of such a grating match.
“It was an incredible feeling to win that game,” he said. “The defense played outstanding, and I was just in the right place at the right time. This team has some fight.”
The team advances to play Rutgers University-Camden on Nov. 15 in Camden, New Jersey, hoping to keep the season alive and build on the momentum they built Wednesday night.
A version of this article appeared in the Nov 13 print edition. Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]