Rams Golden Goal Stops Clock on Minutemen

Senior forward Sameer Fathazada’s game-winning penalty kick goal lifts Fordham Men’s Soccer over the University of Massachusetts 2-1 in extra time to earn their first Atlantic 10 Conference win this season.


Fathazada’s (above) goal again made the difference in the outcome for the Rams. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Leading into Wednesday night’s matchup, head coach Carlo Acquista called it a “massive test” for his team having to begin conference play with their first road game of the season. Awaiting them in Amherst would be an unbeaten University of Massachusetts Amherst squad sizzling offensively behind seven different goal scorers this year. Through six matches, the Minutemen came in outscoring their opponents 17-5 while averaging nearly three goals per contest (2.83) during that span.

However, the game’s first scoring opportunity belonged to Fordham and the Rams wasted little time capitalizing on the scoreboard. Graduate student midfielder Lennart Keßner sent an auspicious cross down the right side looking for freshman defensive midfielder Florian Deletioglu, who then delivered a left-footed finish in the tenth minute for his second goal this season. Deletioglu’s goal marks the second consecutive match that has seen Fordham score in the opening 10 minutes of action.

The Rams were mere minutes away from taking their 1-0 lead into halftime when UMass was awarded a penalty kick following a Fordham foul in the 43rd minute. Minutemen forward Filippo Begliardi Ghidini stepped up and converted the penalty shot past graduate student goalkeeper Josh Levine to send both teams into their respective locker rooms all squared at one apiece.

After only holding a slight 6-5 first-half advantage in shots taken, the Minutemen made a concerted effort to increase their intensity in the attacking third of the pitch. UMass took nine of their 19 overall shots in the second half, but could not break through against Levine’s efforts protecting the uprights. The Penn State University transfer corralled five saves throughout the second half, stonewalling UMass’ potent attack from securing the potential game-winning goal. Ninety minutes of regulation time would be insufficient, leaving both teams no other choice but to settle the final score in overtime.

Seemingly destined to finish as a draw, the back-and-forth affair took a dramatic turn with just 54 seconds remaining in the second overtime period. Senior defender Brandon Golden made a promising run into the 18-yard box before ultimately getting fouled and placing Fordham on the right side of an awarded penalty kick this time around. Fathazada walked confidently up to the penalty mark, sending a strike past UMass goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin into the left side of the goal for his third game-winning goal this season and the sixth of his collegiate career.

Fordham remains unbeaten this year with the huge road victory, improving to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play while UMass suffers their first loss of the season to drop to 5-1-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the A-10.

Acquista lauded both his players and coaching staff for their resiliency to remain focused amid the mandatory pause last month in navigating the current COVID-19 pandemic. “I think the coaching staff did a great job of managing and leading but the players responded,” said Acquista. “I also have to give a lot of credit to our strength and conditioning coach, Stephen Georgio, for staying on top of the group and working with them the entire time.”

Fordham Men’s Soccer continues A-10 conference play this Saturday, March 27 when they play host to the University of Rhode Island for another installment in the “Battle of the Rams” rivalry. URI defeated Fordham twice in 2019, including a heart-breaking penalty kick shootout defeat in the A-10 Championship semifinal. Kickoff is set for 3:00 P.M. on Jack Coffey Field and can be seen exclusively on ESPN+.