Enrique Carrasco, Editor
The La Salle Explorers Men’s Soccer team hosted the Rider Broncs at home on Saturday Sept. 11. After 90 minutes of action-packed soccer, the men came away with a 4-2 win. The first goal of the game came from Rider, who managed to get the ball past junior goalkeeper Carlos Mora at the 29th minute. This was one of the five shots coming from Rider in the first half alone, while the Explorers failed to get a single shot off in the first half of the game. At the start of the second half, the Explorers started with the ball and seemed like a completely different team. The squad came off with explosive energy on both sides of the ball. Despite this, it was not until the 59th minute that the Explorers managed to equalize the game with a perfectly placed header from senior Sam Decencio, with the assist coming from senior defender Charlie Collins. A little under four minutes after the equalizer came, the Explorers put themselves up on the scorecard with a goal from sophomore forward junior Nare, his first goal in the season. Despite this, the Broncs were able to tie the game yet again after fooling Mora with a fake and finding the back of the net at the 65th minute. Shortly after the equalizer from rider, junior defender Franc Gamiz was able to head in a perfectly placed pass from senior forward Ike Hollinger. At this point, all the momentum in the game had shifted towards the Explorers, and it seemed as if they were unbeatable. As the final minutes of the game passed by, senior midfielder Andrew Weir managed to find the back of the net, and ultimately destroyed any chance Rider had at a draw in the game.
After the game, Franc Gamiz stated in an interview, “We performed very well. We brought a lot of energy, we competed very well and the team was very solid. We wanted to win at home, which is a big thing for us. The people were there despite the COVID regulations. I think ultimately we deserved the victory.” When asked about how he felt about the team’s first win against Rider in three years, Gamiz stated, “That feels amazing. They beat us three years ago, they’re really good, they’re a big school, but we demonstrated that at home we have a better team than them. With a new coach, young players, the way we play, we can do very big things this year. A lot of people ask us if we see ourselves as A-10 contenders this year and to that I say, ‘why not?’ We work for it, we fight for it. We go game after game, we want to win. Right now we’re just focusing on the next game. We can be A-10’s champions this year. I’m confident about it, the team has a good spirit… We’ll see what happens.” When asked how he felt about the fans at the game, Gamiz stated, “I have to appreciate the fans. They support us every day, every game. It’s a big thing for us. Everyone is welcome at our games, and hopefully we can succeed for them. The people mean a lot to us, the community means a lot to us.” Gamiz had an outstanding game, going one for one on shots on goal, and being the one to ultimately break the tie between Rider and the Explorers. With this header, Gamiz scored his first goal of the season and ultimately gave his team the energy it needed to come up on top.
Another stand out player was junior goalkeeper Carlos Mora, who played his first game in nearly two years due to Covid and a season ending injury last season. When asked in an interview after the game about his performance, Mora stated, “Since it was my first game in a long time after ankle surgery, it was a tough game for me. As a team we performed excellent, after being able to come back from two goals, two mistakes from me. I’d say the team performance was excellent. In personal performance though, I’d say it was not my best game, but honestly I’m just happy to be back. I’m very excited to be back in the cage, obviously after all the time I spent out due to my surgery, it’s great to be back. The team was solid in defense, we conceded cheap goals, but after half time we were able to come back, and we changed the course of the game. Even after the scare we kept going and managed to come away with a win. We’re all excited about the team for the rest of the season. We’re ready to win every game we have; I think we’re capable of that. I think we’re all excited.” Mora’s performance comes at a great surprise to not only himself, but to the squad. The squad did not expect Mora back in the cage yet, but they seem excited to have him back. Mora finished the game with two saves on goal, after having to face 12 shots from Rider, two of which scored. This seems to be a slight hiccup for the junior goalkeeper, and it seems that the time away from the cage made him rusty, however if his freshman season was any indication of what’s to come, the Explorers might have their starter goalkeeper back in the cage after all this time.
This win comes at a vital point in the season for the Explorers. After a couple of away losses, the Explorers stand at a 2-5 record in the season. Both of their wins come from home games. Whatever the case may be, the men’s soccer team has a lot of practice and sweat in front of them if they wish to reach A-10’s, and ultimately bring the trophy back home.