The JCU men’s soccer team opened the season with a win and excellent sportsmanship. On the night of October 16 the Gladiators began their season against their biggest rival, the Wolves, from The American University of Rome (AUR).
The game began with the Gladiators weakening AUR’s defense. Despite efforts by captain Sergio Romano, Alfonso “Poncho” Salvatore, Matteo Nertempi and Stefan Mihailovic, the Gladiators were unable to score in the first several minutes.
Late in the first half, the deadlock finally broke when Nertempi gave a perfect pass to Salvatore. Salvatore volleyed a perfect strike past the goalkeeper who did not see the shot until the ball was in the back of the net, giving the Gladiators a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half.
In the second half, the Gladiators continued their dominating streak. Attacks by forwards and midfielders and solid defense by Slimani Othmane and Joe Mueller as well as great saves by goalkeeper Alfredo Verrina displayed excellent teamwork and sportsmanship. After a few minutes of intense play and missed attempts Romano gave forward Nertempi a perfectly timed pass and Nertempi found himself in front of the goalkeeper with a defender on his back. He slid the ball past the goalkeeper to put the Gladiators up 2-0.
The Wolves had been unable to keep up with the Gladiators and this continued as Rron Kurtolli scored a 22 yard direct free kick. As the ball curled past the barrier and past the diving goalkeeper, the Wolves’ fate seemed to be sealed.
However, the Wolves battled back despite missing a player. They eventually scored two goals, and the Gladiators found themselves having to defend a 3-2 lead for the last 5 minutes of the game. They tightened up, and, in spite of having lost 3 starters to cramps, kept the one goal lead and won the game 3-2.
The Gladiators will face their next opponent, who is yet to be determined, during the week of October 21st.
Reported by: Victoria Horn
Assistant Soccer Coach
Business Administration Major
JCU Class of 2014