Short-Handed Knights Can’t Hold 3-1 Lead

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C.—In the first-ever meeting between two teams that have competed on the national stage for years, New Jersey City University jumped out to a 3-1 halftime lead, but Greensboro College tied it on a penalty kick after the Gothic Knights were issued a red card late in the second half, and the two schools settled for a 3-3 double overtime tie. The game was the opening contest of the North Carolina Wesleyan College Roger Taylor Fall Classic at Scalf Field.

NJCU’s record is 1-0-1 while the Pride is 0-1-1. Despite being separated geographically by 538 miles, the two schools were meeting in a South Atlantic regional game as part of the NCAA Division III’s newly aligned soccer regions.  NJCU had a 12-7 cushion in corner kicks but GC outshot the Knights, 19-17.

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NJCU first-year head coach NANSHA KALONJI was a former assistant coach for The Pride from 2002-04.

Sophomore forwards WALTER AVANS (Roselle Park, NJ/Union Catholic) and ALEX CERON (Belleville, NJ/Belleville) and rookie striker J.P. ROSERO (Jersey City, NJ/St. Benedict’s Prep) each scored in the first half to stake the Knights to a 3-1 lead at the half. Senior midfielder AWAL AHMED (Elizabeth, NJ/Linden) and senior defender MICKAEL PEREIRA (Nutley, NJ/Harrison) contributed assists.

Junior keeper JUSTIN GRANT (Montclair, NJ/Montclair) made his first start for NJCU, stopping five shots in 110 minutes of action. Junior Mazi Heydary (Greensboro, NC/Ragsdale) had for saves for GC.

In a physical game that saw eight caution cards, including two reds issued—one per squad—NJCU played the final 25:55 of the game with 10 players. Greensboro was flagged for a red card at 104:05 of the second overtime.

The Pride struck first in the early moments of the game as freshman midfielder Joe Peluso (Ashburn, VA/Notre Dame Academy) put GC ahead, 1-0, at 3:01 when he knocked home a one-timer after a corner kick led to a scramble in the box.
From there, NJCU scored three unanswered goals, the first coming just 2:15 later as Ahmed lofted a cross from the right that Avans one-touched into the net for a 1-1 tie. It was Avans’ first goal and Ahmed’s first assist of the year.

Pereira set up the go-ahead goal nicely at 19:22 when his deep pass from the back to Ceron led to a 1-on-1 with the GC keeper, which Ceron tucked away for his second goal of the year. Rosero, a rookie out of high school powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep, who subbed in for Ceron, scored his first collegiate goal at 33:36 when he beat a defender and the opposing keeper in a 1-on-1 breakaway for a 3-1 lead which NJCU brought into the intermission.

The two-goal margin stood up for nearly 44 minutes. But a yellow card on the Knights in the 78th minute led to a free kick, which junior midfielder Andrew Clark (Ottawa, Ontario/Ashbury College) struck into the net at 77:29 for a one-goal deficit.

At 84:05 NJCU was whistled for a red card, and two minutes later GC attempted a game-tying penalty kick (86:08), which was converted by junior forward Dennis Geoffrey (Elon, NC/Western Alamance).

The squads played two 10-minute overtime periods, but combined for just five shots—none on goal. Much of the second extra session was played 10-on-10.


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