By Tyler Wahl
The Rams men's soccer team held a 3-2-1 record heading into their game against the Middlebury Panthers Sept. 20.
Middlebury has proven themselves to be a stellar team this season, only losing one of five games so far. Despite their previous success, they were unable to score on FSU for the first 47 minutes of the half.
Framingham State’s defense held firm, while Middlebury’s offense searched for an opening in the Rams’ last line of protection.
Around the 12 minute mark, a shot from a Panthers’ midfielder whizzed toward the FSU goal, but was saved by junior goalkeeper Joseph Sturzo.
The pressure from the Panthers’ offense was consistent until a free kick was awarded to FSU graduate student midfielder Bryce Nardizzi.
Nardizzi made clean contact and sent the ball hurling toward the Middlebury net, but it was swatted down just in time to keep the scoreboard at an even 0-0.
Middlebury kicked off the scoring with less than 15 minutes in the half when Panthers’ Eujin Chae put it in with a quick rebound shot.
However, Framingham State quickly responded to the goal off a passing play from Nardizzi to sophomore Rams forward Gustav Hemmingsen.
Hemmingsen redirected his shot into the Panthers’ net to make the score 1-1 heading into halftime.
The second half was not as kind to the Rams, as the Panthers took control of the game quickly with two goals in the first 20 minutes of the half.
The remainder of the game consisted mainly of the Rams’ defense struggling to fend off the onslaught of Middlebury shots.
Despite great effort from goalkeepers Sturzo and senior Jake Hartshorn, the Panthers were able to squeeze one more goal by the defense to make the score 4-1.
The game ended in a 4-1 win for Middlebury as they dominated FSU in most aspects of the box score.
Middlebury finished with 22 shots on goal compared to an underwhelming 10 for the Rams.
The FSU goalkeepers did a good job to stop the bleeding with eight saves of their own, but it was not enough to pull the Rams back into this game.
After the game, senior FSU defender Brian Sullivan said, “I think we have to do a better job at staying focused toward the end of the game.”
FSU’s first half production far exceeded what they did in the second half, and Sullivan thinks it’s an issue that’ll be simple to resolve.
He said, “We had a great first half, but made simple mistakes in the second half that led to a few late goals.”
Middlebury is also considered one of the better Division III men’s soccer teams in the country, and while not in FSU’s conference, it proved a great challenge for the team, Sullivan explained.
“Playing against one of the best D-III teams in the nation is a great experience. It’s nice to know that we are able to score against such an elite squad and compete against them,” he said.
Although this was an exciting matchup for the team, they have their sights set on Bridgewater State for their first conference home game of the year.
The FSU men’s soccer team will face off against the Bridgewater Bears Sept. 24 on home field.