Bison and Falcons play to 2-2 draw
DUDLEY, Mass. – The Nichols College men's soccer team and Fitchburg State University played to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday afternoon in non-conference action at the Nichols Soccer Field in Dudley, Mass.
The two teams scored all four goals in the first 23 minutes of action, but combined to go scoreless over the final 87 minutes of play including a pair of overtimes.
In a pregame ceremony, the Nichols men's soccer program honored their three seniors in Zach Suhoza (Clearwater, Fla.), Cooper Milano (Caldwell, N.J.) and Paul Sickinger (Tyngsboro, Mass.) for their contributions to Nichols College and its athletic program.
The Bison held a 37-13 advantage in shots in the game and attempted 20 corner kicks to just seven for the visitors, but the Falcons' senior goalie Alex Al-Zaibak (Hingham, Mass.) made several miraculous saves and had 10 in the game to preserve the 2-2 tie. His counterpart, junior Patrick Porpora (Westminster, Mass.) made seven saves of his own in his second draw of the season.
Graduate student Ryan Banker (Ashaway, R.I.) opened the scoring in the contest as sophomore Jonathan Ingram (Belchertown, Mass.) lofted a pass down the right side from midfield that Banker settled under, and after losing a defender, Banker slotted the ball opposite post for the 1-0 advantage in the 10th minute of the game.
Fitchburg State answered nearly two minutes later when senior Jared Burns (East Bridgewater, Mass.) turned at midfield and placed a perfect through ball over the back line of the Nichols defense and to the feet of senior Ibrahima Male (Pawtucket, R.I.), who beat Porpora one-on-one to knot the game at 1-1.
The Falcons wasted little time taking their first lead in the 13th minute as sophomore Matthew Krikorian (Groton, Mass.) worked through the Nichols defense and beat Porpora, but junior William Aldrich (Belchertown, Mass.) slid in front of the goal line keeping the ball out, but was called for a handball. Krikorian was awarded a penalty kick, which he finished, to put the Falcons on top 2-1.
Nichols was able to respond in the 23rd minute as sophomore Chris Noga (Belchertown, Mass.) was taken down at the top of the box and awarded a penalty kick. Noga stepped to the spot and rifled the ball past Al-Zaibak to even the score at 2-2.
Both teams had their chances in the second half and overtimes, but none came closer than in the first overtime. After junior Gregory Giglio (Deer Park, N.Y.) had a shot blocked, it bounced out to senior Paul Sickinger, and he fired past the outstretched hands of Al-Zaibak but off the left post. The ball bounced back out to Sickinger, but his second attempt was blocked away and the score remained tied in the 92nd minute.
Nichols held a 6-4 edge in shots in the two overtime periods, but neither team could find the back of the net.
Today's game marked the 25th meeting between the two programs, and the Bison lead the all-time series 11-9-5.
Nichols (6-3-2, 2-1-0 CCC) – Saturday, Oct. 7 at Western New Eng., 12:00 p.m.
Fitchburg St. (4-3-2, 0-2-1 MASCAC) – Saturday, Oct. 7 vs. Salem St., 12:00 p.m.