No. 5 Diplomats Edged by Eastern

No. 5 Diplomats Edged by Eastern

Box Score

ST. DAVID'S, Pa. - Franklin & Marshall's No. 5 men's soccer team suffered its first loss of 2018 with a 1-0 setback against Eastern on Tuesday afternoon.

The non-conference road tilt brought the Diplomats' record to 8-1-2 on the year while the Eagles improved to 7-2-1. 

Neither team found pay dirt in the opening stanza. F&M saw its best chance of the first half occur in the 24th minute when a long cross to the far post found the foot of Jim Connolly, who sent a high attempt on goal that careened off the crossbar and out of play. 

Following the first 45 minutes of play, the Eagles held a narrow 8-6 edge in shots, while corners favored the Diplomats at 5-3. 

Eastern struck in the 64th minute with a Julio Ardon header from close range to put the Eagles ahead by a 1-0 tally. Trailing late, F&M ramped up the pressure in the final minutes, maintaining possession in the Diplomats' offensive third. 

With seven minutes remaining, a long throw-in from the far side reached the box and led to an opportunity in front, but Eastern's backline got in front of a Cole Niggeman shot to block his attempt. 

The Eagles had a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach with 1:30 remaining off a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box but sailed the chance high of the crossbar.

One final chance remained for the Diplomats with under 30 seconds left on the clock as F&M stormed up the field and looked to capitalize on a throw-in attempt in its offensive third. The toss into the box bounced around and never found the foot of a Diplomat striker as Eastern cleared and managed to narrowly escape with the win. 

The overall shot count belonged to F&M by a 16-13 margin thanks to a 10-5 advantage in the second half. Corners also favored the Diplomats at 11-5 with a 6-2 edge in the final period. 

Ugo Okolie led the way with four shots, including one of goal, while Steven Yakita, Alex Lalovic, A.J. Kopacz, and Cole Niggeman were each credited with a pair of shots.

Goalkeeper Christopher Amoruso (5-1-2) received the loss with a three-save effort. Anthony Hitchcock (3-0-1) secured the Eastern shutout with two saves in 90 minutes of competition.

F&M makes a return to Centennial Conference (CC) play on Saturday when the Diplomats host Ursinus at 3:00 p.m.