FLUSHING, N.Y. (Oct. 17, 2018) - Senior Day for the men's soccer team began with a celebration of the eight members of the Queens College men's soccer team who were playing in their final regular season home game in Flushing on Wednesday (Oct. 17).
Senior Day for the men's soccer team ended with a celebration that was downright euphoric as the Knights earned a 3-2 signature victory over NYIT at the QC Soccer Field that allowed the Knights to maintain pace in the East Coast Conference postseason picture.
The game started off slowly enough for both sides with NYIT (7-5-1, 3-3-1 ECC) recording the first shot as Dan Lembo tested goalie Michael Bolvin in the third minute but to no avail. Queens (8-4-1, 5-2 ECC) did not register a shot, on target or otherwise, until the 13th minute of play as Kevin Quituizaca started a barrage of attempts agaisnt Bears keeper Andrew Pereira. Quituizaca's first shot was saved and while a rebound attempt by Saufyane Ilbuodo was blocked, Quituizaca sailed his next shot over the crossbar to end the threat. Ilbuodo lofted a header at Pereira in the 22nd minute that was parried away, and the senior forward had his next attempt cleared off the line by the NYIT defense in the 26th minute. The Bears struck first moments later; a giveaway deep in the Knights' defensive end allowed Xavi Senlik to slide a pass across the mouth of the goal to Lembo, who punished home the game's first goal as the visitors took a 1-0 lead. With about ten minutes left to play in the opening half, Queens responded to level the score as Cristian Villalta fed Romario Hulea for the equalizing goal. However, the celebration was cut off shortly thereafter as Lembo quickly struck back on a header into the right corner to put NYIT back on top by a 2-1 margin. The Knights ended the first half down by a 2-1 margin, yet up in the total shots statistic by eight (11-3).
A quiet start to the second half was shattered by a flurry of shots on both sides with about ten minutes gone by in the frame. Queens nabbed the equalizing goal with just over half-an-hour remaining on a gifted misplay in the NYIT defensive end, which led to Ilbuodo having a one-on-one match-up with Pereira right in front of the cage. The senior's first shot was directly at the goalkeeper, but the ball popped up straight in the air and hit Ilbuodo in the back on the way down. The forward momentum of the ball, however, carried it into the back of the net to give QC the goal they needed to get right back into the game. The Knights attempted to capitalize on their good fortunes mere minutes later, but Quituizaca and Minas Karagiorgis could not find the back of the net. Meanwhile, NYIT had two chances with around twenty-five minutes to play in regulation but Lembo and Martin Sundell both had their shots denied by Bolvin. In the 81st minute of play, Ilbuodo won a ball in the NYIT box and flicked a shot on towards cage that beat Pereira---but not the goalpost. The ball was battled for by both teams and eventually won away by Paul Ogoo, who found Hulea on the opposite side of the box through a wall of attackers and defenders. The junior midfielder one-timed a shot into the back of the net, and his calm celebration was subtle compared to the frenzied cheers on the bench and in the crowd. NYIT would attempt to battle back and get into the offensive end for pressure, but the Knights' defense held firm and did not allow a shot in the final ten minutes. A final fist-pump from Head Coach Frank Vertullo as the horn sounded set off one last bout of hysteria with the Knights grabbing a huge win in conference play.
Queens dominated the stat sheet, outshooting NYIT by a 22-7 margin. In fact, Ilbuodo outshot the Bears all by himself (10-7) and had the same number of shots on goal as the opposition did (5-5). Quituizaca and Hulea each added four shots in the victory while Bolvin made three saves to earn his sixth win in cage for the Knights.
The victory allows Queens to leapfrog into a tie for second place with Saint Thomas Aquinas and LIU Post, knocking Bridgeport out of the ECC postseason picture for the moment. The Knights and Purple Knights will tussle Saturday (Oct. 20) in Connecticut in a 6 p.m. contest.