In the seventh minute of Cabrini’s latest match with a CSAC opponent, the Cavs were dealt a blow they didn’t see coming.
Junior goalkeeper Eric Nowicki leaped in the air to make a save and landed hard on his back. Less than three minutes later, freshman keeper R.J. Pino was between the pipes.
That didn’t stop Cabrini for most of the night as they played 90 minutes of hard-fought soccer against Rosemont College on Monday, Oct. 8, at Edith Robb Dixon Field. In the end, the Ravens got the bounce they needed to beat Pino at the 8:49 mark of the first overtime to rally past the Cavaliers, 2-1.
“Rosemont is far improved from where they were in recent years,” first-year head coach Rob Dallas said. “I felt for stretches of time we controlled play. We had our chances and didn’t make the most of them.”
The shooting gallery on both keepers started early. Nowicki stopped the lone shot he faced before exiting in the 10th minute for Pino.
The Cavaliers scored on their first shot on goal. Sophomore George Lambritsios led senior Anthony Girolamo with a pass in the box. Girolamo was in alone on Rosemont goalkeeper Nick Hulayew and beat him with a low shot to the far right corner of the net to give Cabrini the early lead.
The 19th-minute goal was Girolamo’s fourth of the season, tying him for the team lead with Lambritsios.
The Ravens led a fierce attack in the first half, keeping the Cavs defense and Pino on their toes. Pino made a leaping save on a high shot by Ryan Brazuk in the 33rd minute.
But after stopping his first test of the night, the Ravens found a way to beat Pino before the half ended.
Greg Sauer found the back of the net on a header that sailed over the outstretch arm of Pino off a corner kick by Rodney Aguirre to knot the score in the 42nd minute and force a tie at halftime.
The second half featured more intense scoring opportunities with each keeper being up to the task. Both Pino and Hulayew made diving saves in the last 45 minutes of regulation.
With neither side finding the net in that time, the teams headed to overtime.
The Cavs started overtime with several scoring chances. They earned a corner kick within the first two minutes of the extra frame and put three shots on goal. Two of the shots missed wide of the target. One shot by Girolamo was easily stopped by Hulayew.
Rosemont didn’t put together a scoring chance until the 97th minute of play. Their first shot attempt sailed well wide.
But less than two minutes later, approaching the final 60 seconds of the first overtime, the Ravens managed to get into the box with a chance. Patrick McElroy had his initial shot blocked. But the ball bounced right to the feet of Aguirre. He buried the chance from in tight to score the game-winning goal at 98:49 and give Rosemont the win.
“Those last couple of plays are killer,” Pino said. “Definitely the pressure was there and unfortunately the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
Pino stopped five shots in the loss and despite not being able to lead his team to victory, filled in admirably for the Cavs’ starter.
“R.J. certainly got trial by fire today,” Dallas said. “It’s his first game as a freshman, first significant minutes, and I thought he did a great job with it.
“I thought he did everything well to get us to that point. He certainly did his part today so hats off to him for coming in off the bench. He probably wasn’t expecting to get much time today and he did fantastic for us.”
Nowicki never returned to the game but attempted warm-ups during halftime. Dallas is confident his starting keeper will not miss much time.
“He’s feeling all right,” Dallas said. “He’s dealing with that and we hope to have him back soon. I’m confident he’ll be on the mend sooner rather than later.”
The tough loss drops the Cavaliers to 4-7-2 overall and 2-2-1 in CSAC play. They return to the field on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to face Immaculata at 4 p.m. Their next home game is on Saturday, Oct. 13, when the Cavs host Centenary College at 3 p.m.
“There’s plenty of games left, plenty of time to recover,” Dallas said. “Hopefully we can get hot at the right time here and get ourselves to the playoffs. From there, it’s a new season.”
“It all starts tomorrow in practice,” Pino said. “That’s when we bring it and we can only improve from there.”