KEENE, N.H.- Alex Ratzen proved to be the difference, as he was able to find the back of the net two times in under two minutes in the 80th and 81st minute putting the heartbreak on for the Keene State Owls men's soccer team as they looked to defeat the number one ranked team in the nation, the Tufts University Jumbos.
No. 1 Tufts University: 3-0-0
Keene State: 3-1-0
How it Happened:
The Owls relied heavily on their netminder Anthony Pasciuto in the first half. Pasciuto came up with a number of saves early on, denying the top team in division three men's soccer to get on the board. The Jumbos would crack the scoreboard in the 3rd minute when Gavin Tasker sent a soaring ball across the box which bounced and found the left foot of Travis Van Brewer who made no mistake in cashing in on the opportunity inside the box, giving the Jumbos a 1-0 lead.
The backline of defense would be relentless for both the Jumbos and the Owls from that point on. The Owls were not able to come up with a shot on the goal in the first half, as the defense from the Jumbos was just overpowering the Owls. Anthony Pasciuto came up large for the Owls in the first half, making a total of three saves, all of which were doorstep opportunities for the Jumbos. The Jumbos were able to put up a total of six shots, whereas the Owls were only able to manage two shots total, with none on goal in the first half.
Keene State came out of the second half looking to tally the next goal against the nation's top team. Noah Spaulding tracked down a through pass in the corner in the 54th minute and made some fancy footwork moves on the defender and was able to get a solid cross off to the central part of the box. Owls James McCully was battling for position inside the box as the ball came in. McCully saw the ball deflect off his left foot and roll into the left corner of the net, squeaking over the line for an Owls goal to tie the game at one. The Owls and Jumbos would continue to press, looking for the next opportunity to net a potential game winner.
The Jumbos had the next scoring chance as Alex Ratzan collected a rebound off a strong shot and big save by Owls goalie Anthony Pasciuto and buried it past the sprawling goalie and into the net for a 2-1 Jumbos lead. Ratzan was not done there, as he netted his second goal of the game just one minute and one second later, as it was an almost identical goal as his first. Ratzan took the ball off a rebounded shot and put it in the back of the net to give the Jumbos a 3-1 lead.
The Owls were persistent in their attack after the two goals by the Jumbos, but Tufts defensive line was just too much for the Owls in the final ten minutes. Tufts finished the night with a total of 18 shots, doubling up the Owls who finished the night with nine total shots in the 3-1 loss to the number one ranked Jumbos.
Inside the Box:
- The Jumbos were able to connect for 13 shots on target in the game, their most through the first three games of the 2019 campaign.
- The Owls Anthony Pasciuto came up with double digits in saves on the evening while playing in 85 out of a possible 90 minutes in the game after being replaced by Nate Howard late in the contest.
- The Jumbos have defeated the Owls in all five previous meetings between the two clubs. The streak now moves up to six in a row.
- Owls freshman forward James McCully has now found the twine in his last three games, giving him a total of three goals and seven points on the early season.
The Owls will play their next game on the road as they will take on Elms College on Saturday September 14th for a 1:00 pm start before returning home for their conference opener against Rhode Island College on September 21st.
The No. 1 Jumbos will be back home as they will host Brandeis at Bello field on Saturday September 14. Kickoff scheduled for 7 pm.