Tensions ran high Saturday afternoon as the number 16-ranked Blue Jays came within inches of securing a win in their first conference match of the season. Both teams and their fans were on edge waiting for either side to put the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately, in all 120 minutes of play, no score was recorded for either team. The conference thriller ended in a double overtime draw.
First-year, Connor Rathsam almost gave the Jays the win in the first round of overtime. He shot the ball in the 96th minute of play, only to hit the right post and have it deflect in the opposite direction of the net. Rathsam has played in all seven games for the Blue Jays this season. He has shown a lot of potential in the midfield to help the Jays squash their opponents in the coming years.
Senior Jeff Light took five shots with two of them on goal. Light’s quick feet and hard shots were no match, however, for Drew keeper Stephan Lukianov. Lukianov stood guard on all 16 shots that the Jays took against the Rangers. His only real worries coming off the feet of Rathsam and Light, both sending their shots just shy of the net.
Elizabethtown College goalies senior Ryan Sandell and sophomore Brian Gately held down the fort for the Jays. They recorded another clean sheet as they fended off all 12 shots from the Rangers’ offense. Eduardo Martinez took three shots for Drew that came close to being their chance at a win, but Sandell, senior keeper for the Jays, shut him down every time. Sandell has shared the cage with Gatley for five out of seven games this season.
For this game, Gatley got to see his 20 minutes of play as the keeper for both rounds of the high intensity overtime. He surely has big shoes to fill when Sandell graduates following this season, but so far he has proven himself worthy of the position.
Since the game ended in a draw, the Jays snapped their conference win streak. Last season, the team managed to win all eight conference games in their inaugural season as members of the Landmark Conference.
The Blue Jays look to redeem themselves as they hit the road for their next five games. Three of the matches are in-conference against the University of Scranton (2015 Landmark Conference Champions), Moravian College and Catholic University. The Blue Jays lost to Scranton by one goal in last year’s Landmark championship match.
Etown traveled to old Middle Atlantic Conference rival, Messiah College, last night to square off with the Falcons in the annual Marshmallow Bowl.
In rainy and windy conditions, the two teams battled to a 0-0 draw for 90 minutes of play. In the first overtime period, Messiah put all of the pressure on the Blue Jays’ defense. Finally, in the 98th minute, the Falcons broke through for the game winner.
Jacob Bender’s shot bounced off of an Etown defender and eluded Sandell to reach the back of the net to help Messiah defeat the Blue Jays. Etown was ranked 21st at the start of the game.
The Blue Jays will be back in action on Saturday afternoon at the University of Scraton. It is the second Landmark Conference match of the season for Etown.