Rams Get the Ball Rolling on Right Side of 2-0 Triumph


Fathazada’s (above) penalty score against Fairleigh Dickson sparked the bright start the Rams will look to carry past the current pause. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Behind two second half goals from senior forward Sameer Fathazada and freshman defender/midfielder Florian Deletioglu, Fordham Men’s Soccer began their unprecedented 2021 spring season with a 2-0 victory against Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) over the weekend.

When kick-off commenced between the Rams and Knights on Saturday afternoon, it was the first regular season match Fordham has played since November of 2019. It will go down in history as the team’s first-ever spring season opener, but the weather conditions were far from vernal. Frigid temperatures accompanied both teams onto the pitch, with piles of snow surrounding Jack Coffey Field’s outskirts to fully accentuate the wintry environment.

Fortunately, the Rams did not allow the cold weather to play a factor in playing their style of soccer. Aside from an early shot on goal five minutes into the first half, Fordham’s defense locked in and limited the Knights to just two more shots for the remaining 40 minutes. The Rams turned stout defensive play into aggressive offense which produced ample scoring chances.

Fordham outshot the Knights 16-3 in a first half that saw the Rams take six shots on goal and earn six corner kick opportunities. However, FDU goalkeeper Spencer King shut the door on any aspirations Fordham had to find the back of the net. King’s six first-half saves preserved the scoreless affair heading into halftime. It seemed like just a matter of time before head coach Carlo Acquista and his team would break through on the scoreboard.

This inevitability finally came into fruition nearly four minutes into the second half when FDU committed a handball inside the penalty area. Awarded a penalty kick, Fathazada made the Knights pay by putting one past King to give Fordham a 1-0 lead. FDU went over 55 minutes before taking their second shot on goal of the game, attempting only two shots for the entire second half.

Fordham controlled possession thoroughly during the second half which helped set up the home team for another excellent opportunity on goal. In the 80th minute, freshman midfielder Max Rogers sent a beautiful cross from the far side into the right side of the 18-yard box looking for graduate student defender Matt Sloan. Sloan, the transfer from American University, was able to track Rogers’ pass and deliver a clean ball towards the center of the goal area where Deletioglu was waiting to finish in front of an empty net. It is Deletioglu’s first goal in his collegiate career and put the finishing touches on an impressive 2-0 victory over FDU.

Acquista lauded his players for executing the game plan in all three areas of the pitch to put together a complete team performance. “Now you’re starting to see the evolution of how we want to play at Fordham,” Acquista said. “Fitness, speed of play and how we control possession is very important to me.”

Unfortunately, celebrating Saturday’s win and looking forward to the team’s next game was short-lived. Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases at the Rose Hill campus, Fordham Athletics is pausing all athletic competitions and practices for 14 days in accordance with the university-wide pause to reduce the infection rate. Acquista himself understands why the decision was ultimately made in following New York State regulations but also admits that as a competitor, he was “very disappointed and heartbroken.”

When asked how the players will operate during the next two weeks, Acquista anticipates they will take advantage of voluntary workouts with the team’s strength and conditioning coach as well as having the team captains organize training sessions to stay in game shape. Acquista went on to say that, “If you’re motivated and you want to be a winner, you’re going to be doing all that work on your own. That is the expectation of any Division one athlete and coach.”

Fordham Men’s Soccer will now have four of their next five non-conference games postponed and if all goes according to plan, the Rams return to regular-season action on March 6 when they go on the road to play Hofstra University at 2 P.M.