Salem State nips PSU Men’s Soccer in home opener

Martinsson scores for Panthers; late goal lifts Vikings

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Saimir Zempaj (Peabody, Mass.) scored the game-winning goal with just 7:30 remaining in the second half Wednesday afternoon as Salem State University spoiled the home opener for Plymouth State University with a 2-1 victory in non-conference men's soccer action at Panther Field.

            Zempaj was sent in alone on the goalie on a touch pass from senior Eric Moreno (Lynn, Mass.), and Zempaj beat PSU senior keeper Bjorn Ohlsson (Halmstad, Sweden) to the lower right corner.  Both teams had scoring opportunities in the closing minutes but the Vikings held on to pick up their first win of the season.  PSU and SSU are now both 1-2 overall.

            Salem State took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute of the game.  Junior Eryk Fernandez (Nipomo, Calif.) worked a give-and-go with Zempaj, and Fernandez fired a shot from the top of the box that eluded Ohlsson to put the Vikings on the board.

            PSU nearly tied the game with 15 minutes left in the first half but a header by freshman Petro Masumbuko (Manchester, N.H./Central) off a corner kick clanged off the cross bar. Senior Carlos Escobar (Malden, Mass.) got another strong shot off for Salem State from the top of the box with 10 minutes to play, but Ohlsson made the save.

            The Panthers evened the score 11 minutes into the second half when freshman Taylor Raney (Hooksett, N.H./Manchester Central) made a move around a defender near the left goal line and slid a pass to the front of the goal, where senior Joakim Martinsson (Morlunda, Sweden) was there to finish off the play for his first goal of the season.

            The home team applied more pressure in the second half but the visitors pulled ahead in the 83rd minute on Zempaj's goal.  Ohlsson kept it a one-goal game with a point-blank range save on Fernandez with six minutes to go, and Ohlsson and senior midfielder Parker Spear (Sodus Point, N.Y.) both made saves on the goal line for PSU in the closing minutes before time ran out on the Panthers.

            Ohlsson finished with nine saves for PSU while senior Scott Hall (Waltham, Mass.) stopped seven shots for the Vikings.

            PSU is home again Friday for a non-conference affair against Bridgewater State (5:00 p.m.), while Salem State visits Endicott College Saturday at 5:00 p.m. 

-- 30 --