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The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Men’s Soccer defeats Panthers at home

Freshman pair star in season opener. Pioneers 1-1 after two games.
Kayleigh Sturtevant
Two Utica men’s soccer players huge in celebration after a goal.

The Utica University men’s soccer team started strong on Sept. 2 with a season-opening win against the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford at the Laura M. Casamento field 4-1. 

After finishing the 2022-2023 season runners-up in the Empire 8 conference with (8-9-2) record, the Pioneers began the season after spending the summer preparing individually and as a team. 

“We want to win the conference this year and see how far we can really go as a team,” Goalkeeper Foti Xidias said. 

It was. Sophomore Noah Nassberg, who assisted junior Gavin Baxter for a quick goal, giving Utica a 1-0 lead three minutes into the first period. Nassberg subsequently found the feet of senior Byamungu Mugushu in the 22nd minute for his second assist of the game and Mugushu’s fifth consecutive goal in as many matches. 

“I had a feeling I was gonna score that game, I just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” Mugushu said. “When I got the pass from Noah it was a perfect ball. After that, I knew I only had one job to do.” 

The Panthers would get their first goal of the game when Devin Stowe converted a penalty kick in the 26th minute, his first of the season.  

Adin Day, a freshman, on debut, scored his first collegiate goal 3-1 in the 40th minute. Jalen Lucero, another freshman, got his goal-scoring tally started with his first career goal in the 46th minute 4-1 at the end and 1-0 to start for the Pioneers. 

Xidias played all 90 minutes of this game with a strong defense surrounding him. His team and coach, he said, are to thank.

“This is the best and deepest group we’ve had and I’m feeling really confident,” Xidias said. “I feel like our energy this season is the best it’s ever been.” 

Following their win on Sept. 2, the Pioneers (1-1, 0-0 Empire 8) were defeated 3-0 by SUNY Plattsburgh (2-0, 0-0 SUNYAC) on Sunday, Sept. 3. Despite the Cardinals having a 20-14 edge in shots during the game, Xidias, a senior, recorded nine saves as he tried to keep the team within reach. 

“Historically [Plattsburgh’s] definitely a good team,” Xidias said. “… It’ [was going to be] a good test. We just have to treat every game with the same energy.” 

Before the visitors scored, the teams fought for possession in the first 20 minutes. Utica kept pressure and had a few chances to score, but were unsuccessful. 

In the second half, Plattsburgh added two more goals to establish a 3-0 advantage, which would stand as the final score. 

“It was a tough loss,” Mugushu said. “We could have scored if we had created more opportunities earlier in the game when we had full energy.” 

The men will play SUNY Polytechnic Institute (1-2, 0-0 SUNYAC) at home on Saturday, Sept. 9, then travel to SUNY Cortland (2-1, 0-0 SUNYAC) on Sunday, Sept. 10.

“We’re just getting started,”  Mugushu said. “The best we can do is move on and reunite as a family.”


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About the Contributor
Kayleigh Sturtevant
Kayleigh Sturtevant, Multimedia Editor
Class Year: Senior Major: Sports Management Previous Position: Multimedia Editor (Fall 2023)

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