Courtesy of NJIT Athletics
SEVEN MEN’S SOCCER HIGHLANDERS HONORED ON SUN BELT CONFERENCE COMMISSIONER’S ALL ACADEMIC LIST
NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference named seven NJIT men’s soccer players to the 2013-14 Commissioner’s All-Academic List, Randy Lieberman announced for the conference on behalf of Commissioner Karl Benson.
NJIT is an associate member of the Sun Belt Conference, which is sponsoring men’s soccer as a championship sport this season for the first time since 1995. However, the formation of Sun Belt Conference men’s soccer was announced in the 2013-14 academic year, so the Sun Belt is honoring the academic achievement for the year, even though a soccer championship was not contested.
Student-athletes named for the honor must attain a minimum 3.5 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) for the academic year in question (in this case, 2013-14).
Highlanders on the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s All-Academic List (listed alphabetically, with the individual’s class listed as year of eligibility in the 2013 season):
DJ Diveny, junior, MF, physics major, Washington, NJ/Warren Hills Regional
Eugene Listwan, sophomore, D, business major, Rockaway, NJ/Morris Hills
Stephen McGeever, freshman, MF, biomedical engineering major, Lincroft, NJ/Middletown South
Joshua Mercer, sophomore, MF, computer technology major, Selbyville, DE/Indian River
Trevor Nye, senior,D, architecture major,Wyckoff, NJ/Hawthorne Christian
Joshua Ott, freshman, MF, electrical engineering major, Erie, PA/Mercyhurst Prep
Ansel Ueshiro, freshman, D, biomedical engineering major, Farmingville, NY/Sachem East
The Sun Belt Conference will announce additional academic honors for men’s soccer on September 25.
NJIT BLANKS #22 NAVY, 1-0
NEWARK, NJ— NJIT men’s soccer coach Didier Orellana knew his team would need to play mistake-free and near its best to have a chance against #22 Navy. On Saturday night, the coach got what he wanted, as the Highlanders scored a 1-0 victory over the visiting Midshipmen.
Hosting a Top 25 side for the first time since beginning Division I competition in 2004, NJIT (4-2-1) rewarded the big home crowd with a performance that featured some of the best elements of the Highlanders’ capabilities.
Navy (3-3-1) was a preseason Top 25 team in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. The Midshipmen fell out following an 0-1-1 start, but returned to the rankings with three straight wins that included a 2-1 upset over #10 Maryland on September 8.
Having won the 2013 Patriot League title and advanced to the second round of last year’s Division I College Cup, Navy came to NJIT on a streak of scoring at least one goal in each of its last 23 games.
That streak, which dated back more than a year, ended in Newark thanks to a disciplined defensive effort for the Highlanders, backed by some acrobatic saves, especially late, from sophomore goalkeeper Christian Foust, who made seven stops for his second clean sheet of the season.
The game’s only goal came at the 20:02 mark on a rebound by junior Joshua Mercer, his first of the season and sixth of his career. Marko Drljic earned the assist, tying him for the NJIT Division I era career scoring lead with 34 points. He tied Franco Gamero (Class of 2014) for most career points since the Highlanders started DI competition in 2004.
Drljic, NJIT’s first Division I NSCAA all-region player when he received the honor in 2013, made his presence felt from the opening whistle. He orchestrated the scoring play that resulted in Mercer’s goal with a solo carry into the left side of the box. His hard shot was too much for Navy’s junior goalkeeper Jackson Morgan to control. And when the ball squirted loose, Mercer was there to rip it into the back of the goal.
The shot totals were low, with Navy holding a 12-6 lead after 90 minutes. NJIT had a 4-3 advantage in the first half that included the only goal of the match. Navy’s keeper, Morgan, finished with one save.
Navy was pressing the attack in the second half, sending all 10 field players into the offensive half for at least the final half-hour. But it was not strictly a matter of Navy pressure or NJIT playing cautiously. The Highlanders had some forays, but most broke down over the final 20 yards. As a result, the Midshipmen had a 9-2 lead in total shots and NJIT’s Foust made four of his saves over the final 45 minutes.
Foust made a spectacular save in the 58th minute. With Navy pressing forward, Geoff Friers took a header point blank and the NJIT keeper made a leaping save, getting his hand on the ball while falling backward and deflecting it off the crossbar. The Highlanders then cleared the rebound out of bounds to the sideline.
Foust got a boost from his defense late, as Navy’s PJ Suess broke in on goal in the 88th minute. Sophomore center back Jonathan Onyeaka made a sliding tackle across the NJIT goal mouth to clear the ball from danger before Suess got off a shot.
Navy was not done, however, and the Midshipmen were award a free kick from outside the box. Seuss took the kick and sent a high floater toward goal, hoping a teammate could get a head on it. But the 6-foot-3 Foust went up, made another leaping catch and held on despite being knocked to the ground down 27 seconds from time.
NJIT is 3-0-1 at home in 2014 and 7-1-2 on its home field going back to the start of the 2013 season. Since Orellana joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 2011, the Highlanders are 16-6-4 in home games.
The win over #22 Navy comes after the Highlanders had a pair of one-goal away losses to ranked St. John’s (#19) and Fairleigh Dickinson (#22) in 2013. The only previous win for NJIT over a ranked Division I opponent was in September 2007 (2-0 at San Diego State; #23 Soccer America; #22 Top Drawer Soccer,but not ranked by the NSCAA).
NJIT will wrap up its five-match home stand on Wednesday at 7 pm, when it hosts Rider. The Broncs, 2-1-1, will host St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon before their midweek trip to visit NJIT.