The Rams (0-16-1, 0-11-0 MEC) suffered a complete defeat on the road in Athens, W.Va., at the hands of the Concord University Mountain Lions (3-11-2, 3-7-2 MEC) Wednesday afternoon, falling by a 5-1 score.
Sophomore forward Sam Ashton had an incredible game for the Mountain Lions, as he posted three goals in the game.
At the 3:00 mark, Ashton scored the first of his three goals by tapping the ball back into the goal after his prior shot hit the post. Whether in soccer or basketball, coaches always say it is important to follow your shot, which Ashton more than exemplified on this play.
With a 1-0 lead, Ashton and the Mountain Lions were not done. Just a little over two minutes later, Ashton received a penalty kick opportunity when Shepherd committed a foul inside its own penalty box. Ashton took his time, collected himself, and sent a shot past Rams’ senior goalkeeper Jacob Clements to give the Mountain Lions a quick 2-0 lead just five minutes into the game.
Before the Rams knew what hit them, they were already down 2-0. Clements recorded nine saves in the match, but defensive lapses and missed save opportunities on his part set the Rams back very early on.
Senior midfielder Yacouba Issa Traore assisted on Ashton’s third goal near the beginning of the second half at the 52:27 mark. Traore placed a nicely-timed pass to Ashton, who got the better of the Rams’ defense and Clements for the third time of the match by launching the ball to the back of the net.
Ashton did anything and everything he wanted to do against the under-matched Rams’ defense.
However, Ashton was not the only Mountain Lion playing on the top of his game. Sophomore midfielder Maxime Ramioulle got into the scoring action with a goal of his own at the 60:39 mark. Sophomore midfielder Josh Mattson received a pass from another Mountain Lion and then proceeded to send the ball in Ramioulle’s direction. Ramioulle sent the ball past Clements on his first touch, extending the Mountain Lions’ lead to 4-0.
To the Rams’ credit, they did everything they could to avoid the shutout. Even though the Rams were only able to get off five shots in the match, they made one of their opportunities count at the 67:46 mark, when junior midfielder Justin Daniels scored off of a defensive lapse by the Mountain Lions.
Rams senior midfielder Kevin Bonanno found a gap in the Mountain Lions’ defense, placing the ball to Daniels with a lot of green room in front of him. Daniels beat the remaining defenders and sent a shot to the back of the net, reducing the deficit to 4-1.
Unfortunately for the Rams, this joy would be erased later in the half. Mountain Lions freshman forward Andrew Hardman scored off of a corner kick opportunity at the 80:58 mark in the contest. Freshman midfielder Moulay Hassani had the assist on the play, as he and Hardman only added to the Rams’ misery by extending the lead to 5-1.
Daniels had another chance to score in the first half, but he could not get the ball by Mountain Lions freshman goalkeeper Kyle Brown.
The rest of the Rams had tremendous difficulty getting any shots off at all. Senior forward/midfielder Justin Marshall had a great chance to get the Rams on the board at the 29:44 mark, but his shot went wide. Junior forward Alejandro Oliart could not capitalize with his shot at the 57:15 mark, as Brown made a fantastic save on the play.
With how poorly the Rams were playing defensively, every miss became even more excruciating and costly.
Brown contributed two saves to help secure the win for the Mountain Lions. When the Rams got to him, they at least gave him a minimal level of trouble.
All throughout the match, the Mountain Lions did not have any difficulty getting shots off. The 28 shots the Mountain Lions took really took its toll on the Rams’ defense and Clements. An inability to control the ball and get rid of passing lanes for the Mountain Lions were the main reasons the Mountain Lions appeared to be able to do whatever they wanted.
Having to endure through nine corner kick opportunities only put more strain on a struggling Rams defense. The Rams were not able to return the pressure they were feeling, as they only had two corner kick opportunities of their own.
Tempers were also very hot in this match, as there were a combined 26 fouls in the match. The Mountain Lions had 10 of these fouls, while the Rams had the remaining 16, including eight in both halves. With four yellow cards and two red cards, the Rams had to play down two players for the majority of the second half.
This only added to the Mountain Lions’ ability to be able to spread the ball, get off more shots, and most importantly, take time off the clock.
On Saturday afternoon, the Rams will have their final chance of the season to get their first win, as they will go on the road to face Charleston. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org