SCRANTON, Pa. -- On a chilly Sunday afternoon at Scranton Prep's Loyola Field, Lackawanna men's soccer team fell in its final game of the 2018 season to the Titans of the County College of Morris, 3-2.
For Lackawanna (3-15-0) the loss was its ninth of the season against a team that was ranked or received votes in the NJCAA national polls this season.
"Lackawanna hasn't ever played a schedule like this," said Roediger. "We took on anyone and showed that we can compete with the Region's best. Many people underestimated us prior to playing them, but I am assured that those people will see Lackawanna differently during the 2019 season. We never gave up and we competed with some of the nation's best."
The Titans grabbed two early goals to take a 2-0 lead within the opening 10 minutes with the goals coming in the 7th and 10th minutes respectively.
"The start wasn't what we were looking for," Roediger stated. "We haven't' given up early goals like that this season, however we never gave up, which was a credit to our program and our players."
The Falcons responded with a strike from over 40-yards in the 34th minute when Montell James (Roseau, Dominica) beat his mark and lashed a world-class strike past the Morris goaltender, Kenny Moran, to bring the hosts within one (2-1) before the break. The goal gave James the Falcons' single season career mark for goals in a season with seven.
"That's the kind of ability Montell (James) has," commented Roediger. "We see it daily in training. He has an unbelievable ability to beat his man and to score from distance. Today it put us back into the match."
The half would end with the visitors leading 2-1 and holding a 5-4 lead in shots while both teams were level on corners (1-1).
"They caught us early," observed Roediger. "But we knew that we had the talent to rebound against a team that has been ranked in the top-10 nationally."
The Falcons pushed forward in the second half and leveled the match when sophomore Jacquan McPherson netted his first collegiate goal in the 54th minute as he headed home a James' single season record 7th assist. James the Falcons' dead ball specialist found McPherson on a corner kick.
Lackawanna continued to control the match and looked to take the lead as they pushed attack after attack against the Titans. However with less than 20 minutes remaining, Morris regained the lead as CCM's Sebastian Cardona scored the a goal for the visitors.
In the ensuing minutes, three Falcons were shown their second yellow of the match, as Lackawanna was forced into playing the final minutes 8 against 11.
"It's hard to talk about moments like this," said Roediger. "Things happen in the beautiful game that are indescribable, especially this team's never die attitude. We had three fewer players than the opposition at the end of the match and were trailing. But if someone walked into the match at that point, they would have no idea. We attacked and nearly drew the match level multiple times. To say I am proud of these guys, with their fight to overcome unbelievable adversity would be an understatement."
In discussing today's play, Roediger said with chocked emotions, "I have to say that I am so proud of my guys, Today we battled adversity that no one could ever imagine. I couldn't think of a group I would rather have fighting for the Falcons. Everyone poured it out today, particularly Montell (James) Fitz (Jolly) and Jacquan (McPerson) who were playing in their final match at Lackawanna. That trio deserved a better result. I know everyone wanted to give them a sendoff that they deserved. For the entire 90 minutes, everyone put their best foot forward. Our comradery is second to none. You can see it throughout the ninety minutes and after the match as we celebrated our sophomores. To say I am the coach of this group makes me emotional, I am going to miss each one of these guys. The four-year colleges and universities that gets any one of these guys is truly fortunate. You can't replace such quality in a program. What these players have done is lay the foundation for Lackawanna College soccer program for years to come. Each of them is special in their own ways. I am so proud of them, so proud that my words do not do them justice."
NOTES FROM THE NEST
- In 2018 Lackawanna set the program's single-season goal scoring mark with 22 goals on the season.
- In 2018 Montell James set the program single-season individual mark of seven goals, breaking his own mark of six set in 2017.
- In 2018 Fitz Jolley led the team in game winning goals (2).
- In 2018 Jacquan McPherson netted his first collegiate goal and provided his first career assist.
- Ten different Falcons have scored or assisted at least a single goal this season, surpassing the nine in 2017. Of those from 2017 only Fitz Jolley and Montell James are repeat performers with seven freshman and sophomore Jacquan McPherson joining them with their first collegiate points.
- Sophomore Montell James and freshman Bruno Moreira were the only two players who started all 16 matches for the Falcons in 2018. Freshman Juan Bautista and Tyler St Louis are the only other two who have appeared in all 16 matches with 15 and 13 starts respectively.
- Despite playing one of the hardest schedules in the country that has featured 9-of-16 opponents ranked or receiving votes in the NJCAA Coaches Poll, the Falcons have allowed a program lowest 3.18 goals against average in 2018 – besting the 4.42 GAA in 2017.