As bitter rivals met under glowing lights, fans packed the stands. Even standing room was precious ground. Now add in a star player who crossed the road that separates these two rivals and transferred from Eastern to Cabrini. These are the ingredients in a game between two long-standing rivals.
This set the stage for the men’s soccer team was playing versus Eastern University on Saturday, Sept. 19. This game is anticipated each year and always delivers an intense one. This year’s game was no exception.
The tension was heightened by the fact that last year’s star for Eastern switched sides and was playing for Cabrini this year.
The final outcome was a well deserved 2-1 decision that had the Cabrini Cavaliers on top. This was the Cavaliers’ first win since 2006 against their Eagle Road rival.
The winning effort did not just come with minutes to spare but was a constant task throughout the entire game.
As the whistles blew to start this heated battle both teams quickly showed how intense they were willing to fight for the win. There were hard fights in the mid-field, as well as battles in the corners for gain of possession. These small battles are what led Cabrini to their victory.
Each team had potential runs into the others ends but all were eventually dismissed by a strong defense from both teams.
This Cavalier squad was relentless in its scoring efforts. It showed when they finally connected on a score by senior midfielder Brian Raffle, 36 minutes into the first half. It was off of junior defensemen Troy Allen’s free kick, from 15 feet inside of half field.
This goal was especially meaningful because it not only gave the Cavaliers the lead but it also was an individual triumph.
Raffle, who scored a contributing factor in the win, had also done this before in other meetings between these two teams; unfortunately though it was for the opposition. Raffle recently transferred from Eastern University to Cabrini and still had a year left on his athletic eligibility.
Close to this exact time last year there was a similar game between these two bitter rivals. The game was a hard fought match that looked as if was going to end in a stalemate. Raffle then was playing for Eastern at the time and with 6 minutes to spare put in the eventual game winning goal in the back of the net giving the Eagles the lead. This was a heart break to Cabrini, which lost its third straight match to Eastern.
Now with Raffle on the Cabrini side of the ball the outcome had a polar effect. The game was possibly even more passionate because of the change of heart. “Having Brian Raffle transfer into Cabrini just added fuel to the fire of the rivalry. Both teams obviously hate each other, and having one of their key players join our team was a big deal,” Jason Moran, senior communication major, said.
The Cavaliers went into the half up 1-0 giving them the hop in their step that they needed to keep Eastern away. The second half started just as intense as the first with fans screaming from the stands, parking lot and woods next to the bench.
Quickly into the second half King Saah, junior undeclared major, put a ball over the sprawling Eastern keeper giving the Cavaliers the 2-0 lead.
Reflecting on the game Moran said, “After that goal I knew the game was over because we were dominating them and I knew they had very little chance to score two goals on us with the limited time remaining.”
That remaining time was spent fighting for control and preserving that precious lead. Despite a near perfect defensive performance the Eastern squad was still able to squeak a goal past senior goalkeeper Bryan Johnson late in the second half.
The Cavaliers closed down Eastern and showed that they would not break again. Even with a few strong pushes from the Eagles offense, the back line of the Cavaliers team held strong and showed the true heart and soul of this Cavalier team through their will and desire to win.
“The biggest thing that I took away from this game was getting a big monkey off my back,” Moran said after the game. “Over my four years here Cabrini [I] was 1-3 against Eastern, and lost 3 in a row. So to go out and win my final meeting against them was a great feeling,” Moran said after the game.