JERSEY CITY—The College of New Jersey received one goal and three assists from senior forward Kevin Luber (Delran, NJ/Delran) to gain a 4-1 lead before New Jersey City University rallied with two goals in less than four minutes to draw within one. However, in a game where the Lions converted on a first half penalty kick after NJCU missed one, TCNJ survived for a 4-3 victory in a New Jersey Athletic Conference at the new Robert L. McNulty Memorial Soccer Field.
TCNJ improves to 5-4-3 overall and 3-1-1 in the NJAC, while snapping NJCU’s (6-6-2, 0-4-1 NJAC) two-game winning streak in the rivalry, which dates to 1959. The Lions lead the all-time series, 45-6-3.
NJCU outshot the Lions, 18-14. TCNJ had a 12-7 advantage in shots at halftime and led 3-1 at the break, while the Knights owned an 11-2 margin in the second period. NJCU also had a 9-5 edge in corner kicks but was whistled for eight offsides in the contest.
Prior to the game, NJCU honored its 1966 men’s soccer team, which went 9-1-1, and rededicated the Robert L. McNulty Memorial Soccer Field. The soccer complex is now housed in the main stadium of the Thomas M. Gerrity Athletic Complex, after being adjacent to the school’s baseball diamond for several decades. Joan McNulty, wife of the late NJCU coaching legend, along with their children Bob and Cathy McNulty, participated in the unveiling of the new stadium signage.
NJCU received a goal and two assists from senior midfielder AWAL AHMED (Elizabeth, NJ/Linden). Rookie forward J.P. ROSERO (Jersey City, NJ/St. Benedict’s Prep) added a goal and an assist for the Knights while sophomore striker WALTER AVANS (Roselle Park, NJ/Union Catholic) notched his 12th goal of the year.
Luber contributed to all four goals the Lions would score. He collected his fifth goal of the year on a penalty kick in the 34th minute, which put TCNJ ahead for good. Two of his three assists—which doubled his season output to six helpers—came on corner kicks.
The Lions received single goals from senior midfielder Anthony Staropoli (Raritan, NJ/Bridgewater-Raritan), freshman midfielder Trevor Reilly (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) and junior forward Andrew Lampitt (Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill West).
TCNJ freshman keeper Adam Friedman (Chester, NJ/West Morris Mendham) made seven saves, including thwarting a penalty kick by NJCU sophomore forward ALEX CERON (Belleville, NJ/Belleville) at 18:04 of the first half.
Staropoli gave the Lions a 1-0 lead at 6:13 of the first half as he received a corner kick by Luber from the right endline and one-timed a shot inside the right post. Sophomore midfielder Anthony DiPalmo (Somerdale, NJ/Triton Regional) hit the crossbar on a shot at 10:26.
Ceron had a chance to tie it at 18:04 on the penalty kick, but Friedman dove towards his left, stopping the shot on the post.
Nearly eight minutes later, NJCU would tie it. Senior forward JILMAR PEREZ (Princeton, NJ/South Brunswick) fed a ball onto the right wing to Ahmed, who drove past one defender and with Friedman charging, slipped a shot across the box, into the left side of the net, at 25:52, for his fifth goal of the year. It was Perez’ eighth assist of the season.
NJCU had a solid chance at 32:14 when Friedman saved an attempt by Rosero but Avans was unable to putback the rebound.
Less than 90 seconds later, Luber was awarded a penalty kick, connecting for his fifth goal of the year at 33:36. The Lions added to the lead at 41:56. Luber slipped a pass along the 18 from the middle of the top of the box, and Reilly rifled his first collegiate goal inside the right post.
The Lions led 3-1 at the intermission, and increased the margin to 4-1 at 57:23. Luber lofted another corner kick into the box from the right endline, and Lampitt directed a header top shelf for his first tally of the season.
NJCU had its chances, and finally cashed in at 73:22. Ahmed slipped a thru ball up the middle, sending Rosero to net on a breakaway, before knocking his second goal of the year into the left of the net.
Less than four minutes later, Ahmed dished another pass to Rosero on the left wing. With Friedman attempting to cut off the play, Rosero took a quick shot that didn’t have enough momentum to roll into the net. But Avans followed the play, and before a TCNJ defender could clear the ball off the line, slammed his 12th goal of the year into the left of the target at 77:02. The assist for Ahmed was his sixth, while Rosero tallied his first career helper.
NJCU trailed 4-3 with nearly 13 minutes remaining. The Knight defense did not allow a shot by the Lions in the final 32:37 of the game. However, after drawing within one goal, NJCU would have just one shot of its own to close the game. After Avans’ shot was stopped by Friedman with nine minutes left, neither squad would have another chance.
Sophomore keeper MANNY LOJO (Clark, NJ/Union Catholic) made one save in defeat for NJCU.
The Knights return to action on Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. when it travels to Wayne, NJ for an NJAC game at William Paterson University. The Lions play at the same time against Richard Stockton College in an NJAC game in Pomona, NJ.
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