Samuels nets a game-winner in 2-1 win against Siena

By C.J. Gates

Sports Reporter

Asani Samuels scored the game-winning goal midway through the second overtime to give the Griffs men’s soccer team a 2-1 victory of the Siena Saints Wednesday evening at the Demske Sports Complex.

The game was largely controlled by the Griffs for the first half, with the Griffs outshooting the Saints 3-0 and nearly scoring on a few good chances.

“The first half, I think we’ve played as well as we’ve done all season,” Head Coach Dermot McGrane said postgame. “I thought we moved the ball well. We were creating chances, even into the second half. I was pleased with how we were playing. With the system they were playing, we worked in practice on switching the point of attack. Once we started doing that we were getting very good success against them.”

Early into the second half, Siena was handed numerous yellow cards. Freshman Danilo Markovic was given a yellow card in the 52nd minute. Senior Mike Matera was given a yellow card in the 54th minute, followed by a second yellow and a red card just two minutes later after a blatant trip well away from the ball. Matera was ejected from the game and the Saints were forced to play with ten men for the rest of the game.

After a Siena foul inside the box in the 65th minute, senior Will Hudson was able to beat Saints keeper Adam Myers for his fifth goal of the season. Hudson is now four-for-five on penalty kicks and leads the team in goals.

A few minutes after the goal by Hudson, the Griffs began to get complacent with the lead and the Saints turned up the pressure              putting seven shots toward the net over the next twenty minutes before finally, with just 1:16 left on the clock, a header by sophomore Matt Needham found the back of the net tying the game at one and sending it to overtime.

“Once Siena got a guy sent off, we scored and it was fine for about five minutes and then we just switched off and thought the game was over and unfortunately Siena didn’t,” McGrane continued. “Credit to them, they worked extremely hard and got a goal late.”

“They went down a man and we just went to sleep,” senior keeper Ryan Arvin explained. “We let them get on top of us. I wasn’t happy. We weren’t clearing our lines well. Just silly little mistakes that can’t happen when you’re up 1-0 in a game, especially when it’s a conference game. There’s no room for error.”

The first overtime opened inauspiciously for the Griffs, as just 20 seconds in, defender A.C. LaFlore was given a yellow card after some pushing and shoving with a Saints forward. McGrane was not happy with the play by his defender saying “we work on it a lot in practice. The trouble is, in practice it’s hard to replicate the intensity of a game. So what we try to do is tweak it in practice. I’ll referee things bad or do other things and when they react to it, we make them run. That was silly; especially since they had had a player sent off, a lot of referees might look to even it up there.”

Both teams were only able to manage one shot on goal during the first overtime and they heavy rain made for some very sloppy play.

As the second overtime began, the rain began to let up. Siena had a few chances early on including two shots that had to be turned away by Arvin. Five minutes into overtime, Griffs forward Asani Samuels was able to find a loose ball and beat Myers from 15 yards out to give the Griffs their second conference win of the season.

“Asani is playing incredibly,” McGrane said. “He doesn’t need to score goals to help our team. He creates so much havoc and he drags so much attention, he creates space for other people to play. He’s playing brilliant right now. This is what I’ve been waiting two years to see. I couldn’t be happier with how he’s doing. And that’s regardless of whether he scores.”

Arvin echoes his McGrane’s thoughts on Samuels play this season.

“Asani works his balls off,” Arvin said. “He works harder than any striker I’ve seen. He plays up top by himself. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s frustrating for him. He’s not an actual goal scorer. He’ll be one of the first people to tell you that, but it was really good to see him get rewarded for all his hard work especially with a game winner like that.”

The team now sports a conference record of 2-1-1 and will continue conference play with a game at Quinnipiac on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m.

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