Tag Archives: soccer

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Women’s Soccer Win First NEC Game Of The Season

The CCSU Blue Devils Women’s soccer team has acquired its first NEC win of the season, following a Julie Lavoie goal off of a Claire Walsh corner and Danica Foglio pass on 15 minutes.

“It was great for team morale to win our first NEC game. We’ve been very unlucky in some recent games but tonight we enjoyed some good luck,” said Coach D’Arcy following the match.

Though the game was won, the Blue Devils defense was put to the test. The Mountaineers outshot the Blue Devils 16-8. Nevertheless, the employment of the counter attack from the early minutes of the game by CCSU proved decisive as they scored off a corner kick following a counter-attack. They had a great game, forcing St. Mary’s to distance shots and only one shot on goal that was saved by Nikola Deiter.

From the onset, St. Mary’s searched for the win and accumulated four shots on goal in 10 minutes. Jackie Corley and Andrea Bujacich tormented CCSU’s Deiter and company with runs on the flank. Bujacich combined pace and vision to find passes from the middle. However, she was frustrated as the Blue Devils’ defense kept her passes limited to the 25th yard line.

CCSU resorted to counter-attacks although they are used to possession football. They employed a high line from the 10th minute on and saw a pay-off in the 15th minute. Claire Walsh stepped up for her second corner in the match and delivered a curler to Danica Foglio who expertly picked out Julie Lavoie; she placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the goal to give CCSU a 1-0 lead.

D’Arcy explained that, “Injuries to DeCaro, Been, Cavallari, Christo, O’Leary, Kelley and Robinson forced us into some changes,” however, the team has been resilient,  “the players on the field were determined not to let their teammates down,” he concluded.

The lead would stick, but St. Mary’s tried its best to get back in the game but couldn’t as CCSU crowded the midfield. With a high defensive line and three midfielders to account for, CCSU forced St. Mary’s to long shots, many of which did not trouble Nikola Deiter.

The Australian keeper didn’t have the busiest of matches, but was forced into a splendid save in the second half. St. Mary’s wing back Brinley Watts ran the ball down the left flank and crossed it for Jackie Corley who controlled the shot with her right foot before firing. The astute Deiter, however, dove in on the ball moments before the shot and kept her side in the lead.

On the search for an equalizer, St. Mary’s gained a yellow card but accumulated 13 fouls. The match ended CCSU’s losing streak and St. Mary’s felt like they deserved more. This match gave the Blue Devils their first win of the NEC Season but remained at the bottom of the league with three points from six matches.

Coach D’Arcy reiterated the team’s desire to end the season with strong performances and that good performances have just started: “The overall mood is that the team want to finish the season as strong as possible. We will take the games one at a time and right now our focus is solely on performing well against Wagner on Friday.”

They will travel to Wagner on Oct 19, a team they’re tied with, before taking on LIU Brooklyn two days later.

At the Heart of Soccer’s Defense: Anthony Occhialini

By Danny Contreras

Anthony Occhialini is the number one man between the posts for the CCSU men’s soccer team.  He has registered five shutouts this season, has allowed just one goal per game, and has helped the Blue Devils to a mid-season first place ranking in the NEC.

The Montville, Conn., native remains a team man and thanked his teammates and defense for making his job easier. “Last game I didn’t have any saves,” he began in regards to the 3-0 win over Robert Morris on Oct. 7. “Our defense is solid, but we just are strong overall in the midfield and the defense and it is putting less pressure on me and we’re playing well.”

While in Montville he was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s All-American as well as All-New England, all-state and all-conference.

“He came highly recommended; I mean we saw him play,” said goalkeeping coach, Christian Benjamin. “The goalkeeping community is very small and through my contacts, he came highly recommended. That speaks volume about the kind of student he is about the game, the kind of training, you know—for lack of a better word—his discipline in training spoke testament about what he would be as a prospect for us. So we signed him and had him come to Central knowing full well that he could push for a starting position, even in his first year.”

Occhialini looks up to Tim Howard, the United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper who began his career at Manchester United in 2006 before joining Everton FC the following year. “Tim Howard, just because he’s the number one goalkeeper in the world to me. His footwork and the way he practices everyday is amazing and I want to be just like him.”

In the professional world, “Tony”, as the members of the Blue Devils call him, follows London-based Chelsea FC.

While the All-American goalkeeper may be the back bone of the team, he still emphasized the group effort in the games they have played together so far.

“Christian has been helping me everyday non-stop to get me to the level I am right now,” Occhialini said. “I’m doing everything I can for this team, to be the best player and help these guys out… mold everybody around me and have the best team. Mistakes are going to happen, you can’t be a perfectionist.”

Right now the junior is focused on playing for CCSU, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t soccer after college.

“I want to try, there’s always a shot somewhere, there’s a place for everyone. Even if it’s overseas, in Europe there’s Division I, Division II and III so there’s spots everywhere,” he said.

Coach Benjamin has high regards for Occhialini and commended his passion for the sport.

“He is a student of the game, always working hard trying to better himself,” said Benjamin. “He’s made amazing strides over the years to go from a very athletic keeper, a very focused and driven keeper to kind of stepping back a little bit and study the game and study his approaches. It takes a goalkeeper a couple of years to calm down and acclimate themselves to the pressures of the game, and he’s been able to handle it. He’s handled it well this season and I believe this season he’s been our most consistent player.”

Before he signed for the Blue Devils, Occhialini was a highly regarded goalkeeper with offers from major programs around the country. He considered some of them, but it was CCSU who truly offered him a realistic package which would allow his development.

“When I signed for Central, I just wanted to play and keep the level I was at. I was looking at some big schools like West Virginia and UMass, teams like that, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play. By the time I’d be able to play, a recruit would come in, and he would take me out,” he explained.

Occhialini lost his shutout streak of three games on Oct. 14 after a mistake made by a linesman in the Bryant game that allowed the Bulldogs a goal.

“He’s dominating the air [and] his distribution has been great. His communication has been exceptional with the back four … what really separates him from other keepers is his poise, his confidence and his maturity,” said Coach Benjamin.

He works hard every day in training and it is his dedication to the sport that has earned him the right to be at the heart of the Blue Devils’ defense and in net. “He challenges everybody in the goalkeeping core to work just as hard and to expect a lot from themselves,” said Coach Benjamin.

Occhialini is hopeful to guide the Blue Devils to the top of the NEC Championships for the first time in four years when he faces Quinnipiac this upcoming Friday.

CCSU Soccer Drops Second NEC Match-Up

By Danny Contreras

The Blue Devils lost their second Northeast Conference game, 2-0, against Sacred Heart University following a right footed free-kick from Marcello Castro in the first half, and a unassisted goal from Brian Francolini in the second half.

Following the loss, the Blue Devils remain in first place in the NEC men’s soccer league standings with 15 points out of a possible 21. They are tied at the top with Monmouth, who has 15 points of its own, but they have a better head-to-head record than that of the Blue Devils.

“The momentum was all us when [Castro] scored the free-kick. The final finish wasn’t clicking. We had two good looks at the goal that we should’ve scored,” said Head Coach Shaun Green. “I think we were the better team overall in terms of possession. We dominated most of it. [The team] had two incidents, [one], a free-kick which is a rare mistake by Tony [Occhialini] who didn’t handle the ball.”

The first half started with complete Blue Devils possession for the first fifteen minutes of play. CCSU tested the goalkeeper  with a solo effort from NEC Rookie of the Week, Eddy Bogle. Bogle broke away from three defenders to get a one-on-one situation with Fait Alex who dove to the right side of post, but his effort went wide.

Following Bogle’s attack, Reece Wilson took a chance on goal from 20 yards out, but saw his effort go high of the bar.

The Blue Devils had another great opportunity to take the lead as Jesse Menzies ran the ball down the left side of the post and crossed it for Thomas Obasi, whose efforts were once again saved by Alex.

As much as CCSU controlled the game, however, the Pioneers drew a foul from 15-yards. The Blue Devils set up a four man wall with a gap in the between the players, which Castro capitalized on to score. His right-footed effort sliced the ball from the right, curled in between the Blue Devil defenders, and stopped in the hands of CCSU keeper, Occhialini, but, he couldn’t keep the shot out and SHU led the match 1-0 at halftime.

The second half started and the Blue Devils kept controlling the game getting a couple of clear chances. One of them came courtesy of an Ognen Stamenkovik and Bogle who combined in the Pioneer box. The SHU keeper fumbled the ball, but it their stubborn defense kept the ball out of the net.

As soon as the chance came, a defensive mistake in the CCSU half allowed SHU to score as Brian Francolini marked Mamoudou Dioubate in the center field to take a high ball from Artur Jorge and slot the ball into the empty net. Dioubate tried clearing the ball with a header but misjudged the height. Occhialini came out for the bal,l but Jorge’s quick feet dribbled it past him and allowed him a clear chance on goal which he scored.

“They’re a tough defensive team. They sat a lot behind the ball. Next at home we have Quinnipiac, we need to win in order to make the play-offs. We have three games left and we need to win one in order to make the play-offs,” said Green.

The Blue Devils kept pressuring the Pioneers’ defense, but they could not come up with any answers. M. Dioubate was moved to a center striker role but the SHU defense adjusted accordingly. The match ended shortly thereafter, and gave the Blue Devils its second NEC loss.

“We have to focus right now and win the next game. Our team is playing well, you know, they still have a lot of confidence and, I felt today the scoreboard didn’t reflect the better team, and I think Central was the better team,” said Green. “We’re still in first place, though, and next week we have the opportunity to make the play-offs.”

The team will take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats this Friday at Willowbrook at 3 p.m. followed by a trip to Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. They will return home on November 4th against St. Francis (N.Y.).

Time Spent With The Men’s Soccer Team

By Danny Contreras

Everyone has a second family. Whether it is the people you eat with at Memorial Hall or the people you party with at the club, your second family is almost as dear to you as your actual one. When I traveled to Rhode Island on Oct. 14 with the men’s soccer team, I realized how tight knit this group became in a space of two months and how much of a family these athletes had created.

The day started at 9:30 a.m. I made my way down from Carroll to Kaiser where Coach Shaun Green greeted me. We spoke for thirty minutes while he burned a movie for the team to watch on the way to Rhode Island, speaking about the tactics he devises before the matches. Green taught me how players should influence the game when they don’t have the ball, even putting some math into the tactics.

He joked with me about the teams we follow; how much of a waste Andy Carroll is at Liverpool, and how bad Arsenal performed in the beginning of the season.

At 10:00 a.m. we got on the bus and all of the players were formally introduced to me, as I shook each of their hands. We waited about fifteen minutes because goalkeeping coach Benjamin Wright ran late. As soon as he got there, Coach Green and Coach Wright teased him along with the players.

Soon after, Coach Green started the movie, which was about a fictional manager, Mike Bassett, who guides the English National Football Team to the World Cup semi-finals. The hilarious filmed calmed the airs, which reeked of tension as the game at Bryant would put the Blue Devils on through to the top of the league if they came out victorious.

While watching the movie, Mamoudou Dioubate, one of CCSU’s three captains, sat next to me with his laptop to review the video of the match against Robert Morris. Dioubate took mental notes of his performance and muttered to himself on how to improve on it.

Soon after, Thomas Obasi joined him to watch his performance. At that point, I couldn’t help but ask them what exactly they looked for in the videos. “I look for how fast, or slow I react. How my tackles are and how accurate my passing is,” answered M. Dioubate. “I look for my positioning. I’m always running all over the place so I need to know when the plays are being made,” said Obasi eagerly.

We made a stop at Uno Chicago Grill for some lunch prior to the game. We had three options for meals: pasta with chicken, salad with soup, or a salad with a wrap. For drinks we had two options: water, and water with ice. To my left and right sat M. Dioubate and Reece Wilson, and in front was Souleymane Sanogo, Steven Bailey and Alpha Dioubate.

At first, everyone sat in complete silence. I looked around nervously, a bit intimidated as the majority of them stood taller than me and I’m not used to being around tall people, but I managed to break the ice by asking them which team they followed.

The answers ranged in Premier League with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal being the most common answers. M. Dioubate said he doesn’t follow his country’s international team because they don’t perform too well while Bailey said he should because that is his team.

“I follow Jamaica because they’re my country, and I have a lot of pride in it.” M. Dsaid he rather see good football than bad one, and laughed it off with Bailey. Our food arrived and M. Dioubate and I kept talking with Bailey and Souleymane.

We began joking around, Reece occasionally turning to me and M. Dioubate and telling him to shut up, and that he spoke too much, but everyone laughed it off and the atmosphere grew friendlier and friendlier.

We said our good-byes to Uno, and got on the bus for the quick ride to Bryant.

Once in the locker room, I sat on a couch and updated the Central Recorder Sports Twitter. I looked at Coach Green as he wrote the match’s tactics on the dry-erase board. Coach Wright and Coach Benjamin prepped the players as Bailey played his iPod from the speakers. They joked about how much nicer the Bryant University locker rooms looked from the CCSU ones. Five minutes before the game, Coach Green gave his prep talk.

“Listen up guys, I can’t remember the last time we had an opportunity to be up in first place in the league. Okay? Now I want you guys to be out there, I want to see the tenacity, the desire in every play, in every header, in every kick. You can’t imagine how it is in Manchester United, in their locker room, week in and week out, top of the league every week. They fight for top of the league every single time they step on the pitch. You want to taste what it’s like to be on the top, you got. But the hardest thing is not getting there it’s staying there.”

The team led Bryant at the halfway mark 2-0. “It’s not over yet, not by a longshot. We haven’t taken care of business yet,” said Coach Green as soon as they got back from the half. “You’ve gotta manage the game as professionals. Amateurs are amateurs because they take risks professionals don’t. I expect you Reece and Eddy to score goals. You know why? [Because I think you’re exceptional],” said Green as he got them worked up for the game. He rather have the team angry at him and prove him wrong than not perform at all.

“We will be number one in the league tonight. I want you to forget the first half, begin this half at 0-0. I want you to believe every team in dangerous. Believe Bryant is dangerous because they are, they can be dangerous. Believe they’re dangerous, however, with that said believe no other team is more dangerous than you. The scoreboard does not reflect the difference in quality between the teams. I want you to demoralize them.” He concluded before he passed the talk to Wright, who spoke about the individual efforts each member needs to put in.

The saddest moment in the game came when Anthony Occhialini’s shutout flew away as a missed out of bounds call on the end line by the linesmen allowed Bryant back into the game with CCSU now leading 3-1. James Perkins replaced Occhialini who came back to the bench at the verge of tears, his anger flowing through his face, annoyed at the fact his record would be taken away by a mistake. He spoke to the team, about how stupid the referee was and how badly he wanted to beat him up for his mistake, but he calmed down, and accepted the fact the referee isn’t perfect, and that’s what makes the game so interesting.

The game finished and CCSU defeated Bryant 4-2. We made our way to a Rhode Island family-owned pizzeria for dinner. The team sat in a row, and I sat with them. I spoke to them about my views on the game, how well defensively they performed and how the mistakes almost ruined a great game for them. I commended them for their game the week prior where they defeated St. Francis (PA) 2-0, but these guys are their own biggest critics.

They replied by saying they sucked at that game and that all their skills were off. I laughed it off, but I imagined the pressure they must feel. To perform at this level week in week out and how it takes a toll on them. My admiration grew, but they were humble about it. They took me in as part of the team, though I personally can’t play to save my life.

Yeah, I think I have a third family. Or close to that. After all, the welcoming I received from the team, the coaching staff, made me feel at home. The trip was fun and so was the match. But the best was “hanging” with the team and finding out what exactly it’s like not only on the field, but off as well.

Men’s Soccer Wins at Bryant

By Danny Contreras

The CCSU men’s soccer team went on the road last weekend at Bryant and walked away with a 4-2 win over their Northeast Conference rivals.

The Blue Devils won its fourth game in a row following three Jesse Menzies-assisted goals from Thomas Obasi and Aaron Durr in the first half and Steven Walmsey in the second.

Steven Bailey also got his name in the scoresheet as he scored a free-kick from 30 yards out. Bryant University managed to get two goals in the second half to prevent Anthony Occhiliani and the Blue Devils from getting a third consecutive shutout.

“Offensively, I think it could’ve been 8-2. Again our defenders stepped it up big time, Aaron Durr with a great header, too,” said Head Coach Shaun Green.

Placed dead last in the league, Bryant University searched for an opening goal early in the game. Two minutes into the match, the Bulldogs had already created its first chance, but it did not trouble Occhialini.

It was the second placed team in the league, CCSU, who would open the scoring first. Following a left corner kick from Menzies, Obasi scored the first goal with a header into the top right corner of the goal six minutes into the game.

Bryant University had another chance on goal after its midfielders and forwards combined in the 6-yard box to create a good chance from the left side of the goal. The ball was lofted up in the air and almost made it in had it not been for the heroics of CCSU’s Occhialini.

Although Bryant managed to break away twice, CCSU did not let go of the pressure and increased the lead to two following another Menzies corner kick. The ball went directly to the head of Durr who centered the ball and beat the keeper to make it 2-0 Blue Devils.

The half finished with a great possession from CCSU who kept creating chances, but could not find the back of the net.

Following the half-time break, the Blue Devils tormented the Bryant defense with some incisive passing. Mamoudou and Alpha Dioubate, and Obasi terrorized with their positioning, dribbling, and passing skills.

The second half began as the first one ended, with CCSU outplaying the Bulldogs completely. A Bryant midfielder fouled Obasi on the 30-yard for a free-kick taken by Bailey. The right-back’s accuracy was again in display following a volley that ricocheted on the top bar into the back of the net to put CCSU 3-0.

CCSU’s defense faltered for a moment and allowed Bryant back in, although controversially. The Bryant defense kick-started a counter-attack that caught the Blue Devils off-guard.

However, there was a pass from the midfield that went off the field, but was not caught by either the linesman nor the official, allowing the Bulldogs to cross the ball, and score from it; effectively ending Occhialini’s 3-1 CCSU.

“[Paul Wright and Christian Benjamin have] are very positive, very positive. Christian with the goalkeepers have given them confidence, playing at a high level.  We cannot blame them for those mistakes and Coach Wright has been amazing tactically. The players respect him immensely; he was a former player here, top scorer in the country and went on to become a professional, and they respect he knows what he’s doing and has a bright future,” explained Coach Green about his coaching staff and their influence over the players.

The Blue Devils kept searching for goals and eventually found the net again. Bryant tried to play a ball across that was intercepted by Menzies; the midfielder carried the ball to the 23-yards, passing it through to Steven Wolmsey on the right. Wolmsey carried the ball down to the 6-yard box and score to put the Blue Devils 4-1 ahead.

The game wasn’t over yet, Bryant scored a consolation goal to cut the lead down by half, but as the time ran out, so did the breaths. CCSU outplayed Bryant completely and earned three deserved points to take them to the top of league.

“We gave up a couple of goals that should’ve have gone in, but four goals, you can’t really complain with that. We’ve won four games in a row; we’ve been riding a wave. We look strong, and we don’t wanna crash anytime soon—it feels good,” said Durr.

The Blue Devils will face Long Island University in yet another table-top vs. table-bottom battle. Winning the game would give the Blue Devils a temporary two point advantage over current leaders FDU who lead the NEC League with 13 points out of a possible 18, as CCSU sits at second place with 12 points out of a possible 15.

Women’s Soccer Beats Albany in OT

The Blue Devils before the game. Photo: Kenny Barto

By Danny Contreras

The Central Connecticut Blue Devils women’s soccer team defeated the Albany Great Danes 3-2 in overtime following the completion of Brittany Jackson’s hat-trick.

“Content-wise a win is always good. We didn’t feel too good after the Holy Cross game, and we came back against Syracuse, and we had a lead and gave it up; but to tie it up in the last minute gave us the confidence for today’s game,” said Head Coach Mick D’Arcy.

Jackson scored twice in the first half before the Great Danes equalized in the second half with goals from Aubrey Vangorder and Shayla Bergeron.

“We were all pumped for the game and after we scored the first two goals it gave us confidence,” said Jackson. “But after they scored their two goals we just needed to keep our composure. And it paid off.”

Following the end of regulation time, and with just a minute remaining of the first half of overtime, Jackson completed her hat trick and won the game for the Blue Devils with the rule of golden goal applied.

Brittany Jackson celebrates with her teammate, Rosie Maguire. Photo: Kenny Barto

The match started with an amorphous CCSU midfield, losing possession in the midfield. It was Jewel Robinson, the standout star in the backline, who kept the team composed and on the ground with some spectacular defending. Rosie Maguire dropped back a couple of times to provide an extra woman on the defense as the Great Danes kept pushing on from the middle to the Blue Devils’ final third.

However as the game wore on, CCSU started to settle in, and begun some wonderful runs down the left, right and center to unsettle the Albany backline. The Great Dane keeper, Dani Britt, was tested and defeated on 13 minutes when Julie Lavoie played Jackson on the right with an incisive through pass that latched on to Jackson who put it past Britt. The white-and-blue striped Blue Devils were ahead and imposing themselves on the Great Danes, who could not respond to the possession style D’Arcy employed against them.

Three minutes later, on 16 minutes, Jackson braced the game with another goal. This time it was Maguire at the heart of the action as she played Jackson down the center of the field, into the final third of the Great Danes with a perfectly lofted high ball, which Jackson finished coolly.

Britt should’ve done better with this effort as Jackson’s ball slipped off her hands and rolled behind the goal line.

The intensity never let go from the Blue Devils and Robinson returned to her fullback ways sprinting down the center, past three players, but her speed disallowed her teammates to catch on and a cross to Maguire went out wide.

The Great Danes never gave up and continued to press on the midfield, and actually won a couple of battles but could not create chances for their lone striker, Chelsea DeVerna.

The first half soon ended with the Blue Devils leading 2-0.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first one, and CCSU paid the price as they allowed Albany back into the game. At 53 minutes, Aubrey VanGorder found some space after a misplaced pass by CCSU’s Nikola Deiter and rebounded off an Albany forward and to VanGorder, who capitalized and cut the lead in half.

The minutes passed and the CCSU looked to extend its lead, which almost happened when Maguire saw her shot blocked by Britt.

Albany kept pressing on wholeheartedly in the CCSU final third, and it paid off when a solo effort by Bergeron cut down the left flank and took her shot just off the left post.

Deiter managed to get her hand on it but could not prevent it from going in, tying the score 2-2 with just twenty minutes to go.

The game finished in regulation time at 2-2.

“It’s a young team and we live off our emotions a little bit, and you could tell that at 2-1 we were a little rattled, and after they scored the second goal it was game on for them. They were a team that looked out of it in the first half, and they were very much back into and we needed to find ourselves again,” said D’Arcy.

The Blue Devils came close to finishing Albany off early in overtime but Allison Kelley’s shot was saved by Britt who could only deflect it for a corner.

On the other end, Bergeron tried doing the same, but it was saved by Deiter, who had become a wall. Her performance started off a counter attack that was picked up by Danica Foglio who threaded a run down the center with a perfectly weighted through pass for Jackson,  who finished it even better and won the match with the completion of her hat trick.

“It was a great one for all of us. We’ve got stuck a couple of times; going into overtime, we’ve ended our last two in a draw. We got sick of the ties and we stepped it up and we kept the intensity up,” said hat-trick hero Jackson soon after the game ended.

The Blue Devils will go on a three-game road stint before returning to home play on Oct. 7 against St. Francis (PA). The game will be held at 7 p.m. at Willowbrook park.