By Nico Manganiello – 1851 Contributor
Men’s soccer celebrated senior day at Taylor Field on Saturday afternoon, however suffered a tough 2-0 loss to Johnson & Wales. The loss brings the Lasers’ conference record to a 1-7-1 as the regular season comes to a close.
Despite the Lasers’ efforts to defend the Wildcats in the first half, a penalty was conceded by the Lasers in the 25 minute after a costly mistake by sophomore Jaydon Perez. Senior forward JP Rioux converted the penalty for the Wildcats, going down the middle on senior goalkeeper Zack Laware to put Johnson & Wales up 1-0.
The Wildcats continued to pressure the home team in the first half as they outshot the Lasers 9-1. It was more of the same for the Lasers’ offense in the second half as they managed two total shots.
In the second half, the Wildcats, led by Rioux, continued to put pressure on the Lasers’ defense. Laware however stood tall for the Lasers making a great reactionary save on a Rioux header, tipping it up and over the bar in the 59th minute.
Rioux would however find his second goal of the game in the 62nd minute as a ball from freshman Danny Peixinho dropped in behind the Lasers’ defense and Rioux one touched it over the head of Laware. Rioux looked to finish off the hattrick in the 88th minute off a cross, but was denied by Laware who tipped the shot over the bar for his fourth save of the game.
Laware has been one of the few bright spots for the Lasers all season as he sits fifth in saves for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference with 44 saves in nine games. After the game Laware praised the Lasers’ improvement in defending set pieces and stated, “we need to play as a team and play well offensively [to make the playoffs].”
Another bright spot for the Lasers was senior forward/midfielder Jake Ouellette. Despite the overall offensive struggles of the Lasers, Ouellette was a constant thorn in the side of the Wildcats defense. Ouellette did well to help give the Lasers a few spells of possession and drew a yellow card against Wildcats junior center back, Jonathan Baker.
Assistant coach Alex Strafer said what went wrong for the Lasers was that “[they] slipped up a couple times and that leads to goals at this level.” Strafer did however praise the Lasers’ effort, “the effort was a lot better today… we can definitely move forward with this effort.”
The Lasers are now in a position where they need to win their next three games to give themselves a chance at the playoffs.