Penalty Kicks Decide A-10 Semifinal Between Fordham and URI

Despite being the lowest seed remaining in the Atlantic 10 Championship, the fifth-seeded Fordham Men’s Soccer team enjoyed one distinct advantage going into Friday’s matchup against the top-seeded University of Rhode Island. This year, the A-10 Championship was being hosted by Fordham at Jack Coffey Field.

And behind a raucous home-crowd, Fordham would give URI everything it could handle and more for 110 minutes before ultimately losing to Rhodey in a penalty kick shootout 7–6.

From the onset, head coach Carlo Acquista had his squad in a defensive-oriented formation, showing respect to a URI offensive attack that put three goals in the back of the net against Fordham on Oct. 5 in Kingston. This time, Fordham enjoyed the home-field advantage and looked to use that not only to avenge the regular season loss, but also to punch its ticket into Sunday’s A-10 final.

However, the Rams in maroon suffered a huge loss just minutes into the contest when senior captain defender Joergen Oland sustained an injury that would force him to miss the rest of the match. His replacement, freshman defender Conrado Duhour, played admirably in Oland’s place. In the 19th minute, Duhour had the match’s best scoring chance up to that point off of a corner kick, but his header veered just outside the left post.

URI saw its best opportunity to get on the scoreboard just before halftime in the 43rd minute. Rhodey midfielder Ludvik Benco ripped a shot on goal, which looked primed to break the scoreless tie, but graduate student goalkeeper Konstantin Weis had other ideas. Weis was able to just get a hand on the shot, tipping it over the crossbar to keep URI from taking the lead. The teams went into halftime still scoreless with 45 remaining minutes to decide who would be moving on to Sunday’s final.

Just six minutes into the second half, Fordham had arguably the two best scoring opportunities of the match. Graduate student forward Tomer Zloczower received a wonderful cross into the 18-yard box in the 51st minute but failed to capitalize on the open shot by striking it high and hitting the crossbar.

Four minutes later, junior midfielder Sameer Fathazada looked to have been fouled inside the box, but no call was made by the referee. Fathazada was still able to find senior Johannes Pieles with a great pass, but Pieles was unable to cash in with his shot on goal.

Both teams went back and forth until the horn sounded, as 90 minutes was not enough. The two overtime periods saw a defensive struggle with 110 minutes proving not to be enough to decide a winner. In penalty kicks, URI would ultimately prevail after Fordham sophomore midfielder Jack Murphy missed his shot and URI forward Simon Trcka put his shot past Weis to give Rhodey the dramatic win and Fordham the heart-breaking loss.

URI won 7–6 in penalty kicks, making it the deepest shootout in A-10 Men’s Soccer Championship history, with the previous mark being nine goals which was accomplished on multiple occasions. URI ultimately went on to win Sunday’s final and repeat as A-10 champions. As for Fordham, its season ends at 7–10–3, but the team could have easily seen itself in the final, and coach Acquista will be proud of the performance his team put on against an NCAA Tournament team in URI.