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The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Elmira holds Utica to a 0-0 draw in conference opener

The Pioneers registered their first clean sheet of the season after conceding nine goals in its last three games.
Kayleigh Sturtevant
The Pioneers in its 25th conference matchup up against Elmira registered their first clean sheet of the season.

Utica University vs. Elmira College dates back to Sept. 19, 1992, Utica’s oldest Empire 8 conference rivalry in men’s soccer history. Saturday’s fixture marked its 25th encounter as it ended 0-0 for the very first time. 

It was a family affair. The Pioneers (2-3, 0-0 Empire 8) honored their 10 graduating players on senior day as they took on the Soaring Eagles (1-3-1, 0-0 Empire 8) in both team’s first conference matchup this season.  

It was scrappy at the start, both teams were unable to get the ball under control. Utica, off back-to-back losses, the opposition with one win this season we’re poised past quarter of an hour. 

Byamungu Mugushu had the first real chance of the game but under pressure; his effort struck the crossbar in the 18th minute. Kerfalla Toure, on the breakaway for Elmira against the run of play, looked to score but Joseph Cavallo, the full-back for Utica with the defensive effort shut down the counterattack. 

Anderson Velazquez’s left-footed shot steered wide past Juan Carlos Cruz in goal for Elmira in the dying minutes of the first to close out the opening period.

Noah Nassberg’s sliding tackle earned him the first yellow card of the game in the 27th minute, one of 10 fouls in the first. Amir Bonseu for Elimra was shown his team’s first card after his challenge on Cody Barker-Green leveled the bookings for both sides, a yellow card shown to the midfielder by the referee in the 41st minute. Utica looked more dangerous. Elmira, absorbing most of the pressure, had their chances to score in transition as the first half ended scoreless.  

“We had a good amount of control,” Utica’s head coach Brian Marcantonio said of the first half. “But our movement and timing wasn’t crisp enough in the final third. We were unfortunate not to capitalize on a few restarts that we either headed right at the keeper or put off target.”

From a set piece, Cruz was called into action again, the freshman goalkeeper made himself big off a close-range shot to keep the game level in the 65th minute. Still scoreless, with 10 minutes left in the final period, it looked like a draw as the final minute of play approached. And so it would end for the first time in history against the two — scoreless — at the Laura M. Casamento Field. 

“I definitely believe we deserved the win today but we were very unlucky,” Velazquez said postgame. “This is a learning experience for the team and I know we will work [on] the areas we currently lack for our next game.”

Eduardo Paez, who stood in goal for an injured Foti Xidias, after the senior suffered a hamstring injury in Utica’s crushing 3-0 defeat at the hands of SUNY Cortland on Sept. 10 gave the Pioneers their first clean sheet of the season after conceding nine goals from its last three games. 

Utica (2-3-1, 0-0-1 Empire 8) couldn’t get their top goal scorer Mugushu with five goals this season involved; the forward had to drop deep in midfield at times to get touches on the ball. Though not the best start in conference play, a clean sheet looked the only positive, and with two non-conference games coming up against SUNY Delhi (3-2-1, 0-1 SUNYAC) on Sept.19 and next-door neighbors Hamilton College (0-2-2, 0-2-1 NESCAC) on Sept. 27 the team has a two-game window to prepare for yet another tough Empire 8 opponent in Nazareth College on Saturday, Sept. 30.

“We are a strong side but still need [to] improve in some areas on the field,” Velazquez said. “Nazareth is a good team but I believe in my team that we will be successful moving forward.”

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About the Contributors
Mickale Thompson
Mickale Thompson, Editor-In-Chief
Class Year: Senior Dual Major: Communication and Media & Business Management Previous Position: Contributing Writer (2021), Staff Writer (2021), Special Assignments Reporter (2022), Features Editor (2023), News Editor (2023)
Kayleigh Sturtevant
Kayleigh Sturtevant, Multimedia Editor
Class Year: Senior Major: Sports Management Previous Position: Multimedia Editor (Fall 2023)

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