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  • Writer's pictureELLIOT POTOTSKY

Final-minute heroics leave Lasers draw feeling like a win

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

The men’s soccer team snatched a tie out of the jaws of defeat Thursday afternoon, as the Rivier University Raiders could not hold onto a 1-0 lead in the final moments of the match.

Junior midfielder Michael Guzzone dribbles between two Raider defenders.

Photo by Joe Giacco

In a contest that featured no goals for over 80 minutes, the Lasers managed to leave Taylor Field feeling victorious, thanks to a goal by senior forward Jaydon Perez with exactly one minute remaining in the game.

Despite the lack of scoring chances, both teams battled viciously across the pitch. The first half featured a frenzy of opportunities for the Lasers, including a goal that was waived off due to an off-side call. Further, the Lasers found themselves in two prime positions to get on the board, but Raiders goalie, Dominic Cunha, was able to save both shots.

As the first half approached the final eleven minutes, both squads made a substitution with hopes of sparking a run. Although the physicality remained intense, neither team could cash in a goal from their aggressive play styles.

During the second half, the Lasers came out firing. Junior forward Daniel Faynstein managed to get only one of his three shots on goal, as the Raiders' defense stood strong.

Following the game, Faynstein said that he was disappointed with his performance but added that the team had his back and remembered that “nobody is above the team,” a phrase commonly emphasized by Head Coach Jared Lewis.

On the other side of the ball, the visitors managed to create opportunities down the stretch, but similar to the Lasers, failed to put the ball in the back of the net. Laser goalie, Cameron McDonough, finished the game with four saves.

With under 20 minutes to go in the match, the Lasers managed to connect more passes and pick up their pace of play. After a powerful strike by Faynstein, the Lasers were left with a corner kick. Unfortunately, what led to a point-blank header from the well-aimed cross, sailed over the crossbar, giving the ball right back to Rivier.

To make matters worse, Laser captain, Michael Palumbo, was booked with a yellow card after a tackle that granted the Raiders a direct kick just outside the 18-box. As the clock ticked under nine minutes, the Raiders stacked themselves in front of McDonough. With one swing of the leg, Rivier midfielder Thomas Lanzillo put the ball in the back of the net as it skipped by every Laser player in the box.

The momentum, which now heavily fell on the side of the Raiders, quickly evaporated as soon as the Lasers kicked the ball off from midfield. Despite trailing with less than five minutes to go, Lewis’ team turned it up a notch, as they urgently eyed the equalizer with the fans roaring behind them.

The Lasers quickly went on a run, but a spectacular tackle by a Raider defender limited the home team to a corner kick, which had not been the Lasers’ strong suit throughout the game. Miraculously, as the ball soared off of Faynstein’s right foot, Perez jumped into the air, and this time, he was able to take advantage of his most exciting opportunity this season.

When the ball kissed the bottom right corner netting of the goal, the crowd erupted in cheer, leaving the Raiders speechless. It was Perez’s second goal of the season, as he continues to impress, while also leading this young Laser team.

After the game, Perez was asked to describe the moment he tied the game:

“I see the ball coming in and no one is picking me up. I'm just [thinking], let's see what happens. I flicked it and just watched [the ball] sail past them. And I’m like, ‘No way.’ That is a moment you dream of [while] playing on this field.”

The Lasers, with two wins, two losses, and now two ties on the season, will return to Taylor Field on Saturday and play their second of four consecutive home games, this time against the Johnson and Wales Wildcats, kicking off at noon.

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