Rutherford with a goal and assist in loss
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's soccer team fell in its home opener, 3-2, to non-conference opponent New England College. In sloppy field conditions and a full 90 minutes of rain, senior captain Nick Rutherford (Sydney, Australia) tallied a goal and an assist in the loss.
"I was really impressed with the guys out there today," said head coach Rob Wright. "We have a lot of players injured, but I have nothing but good things to say about everyone who played today."
Senior Jimmy Mansour (Auburn, N.H.) got the start in net and was pressured early by the speed of New England College's front line. Just over six minutes in, Zander Lloyd (Somers, N.Y.) controlled a ball just outside the six-yard box, and a streaking Sina Samali (North Andover, Mass.) gave NEC the early lead.
Fifteen minutes later the Panthers found themselves on the back side of another goal. After an attempted clear from the Panther back line, Michael Skarbelis (North Andover, Mass.) took Mansour one-on-one and scored his second goal of the season.
Plymouth's offense roared back after falling down by two goals. In the 38th minute, sophomore Mauricio Acevedo (Nashua, N.H.) pressured a back pass and ran into a three-on-one, with junior Micah Peterson (Freemont, N.H.) taking a defender to his left. A streaking Rutherford on the opposite side caught Acevedo's attention, and the feed pass resulted in Rutherford's second goal of the season.
With momentum into the second half, Plymouth equalized the game in the 57th minute. In the first corner kick of the second half, Rutherford found the head of freshman Filip Johansson (Lulea, Sweden) for the goal.
Plymouth's pressure would continue to break down the Pilgrim midfield, but with all the momentum the home team let up the go-ahead goal in the 68th minute. Junior Cooper Valinski (Portsmouth, N.H.) rifled a left-footed shot from just outside the 18 past freshman goalie Owen Caggiano (Sandwich, Mass.).
The Panthers best opportunity to tie the game came in the 78th minute. Sophomore Jerry Randolph (Malmo, Sweden) dropped a corner kick inside the six and senior Erik Ljunglof's (Orebro, Sweden) header hit the crossbar before the Pilgrims were able to clear the zone.
"I was really happy with how the second half went," said Wright. "We really pressured from start to finish, and I was impressed with the play from both sides."
Plymouth will be on the road Friday (Sept. 8) against Bridgewater State in another non-conference game, before returning to Arold Field for a 4:00 p.m. start against Tufts.
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