RINDGE — Two goals in the last 10 minutes of the first half put the Franklin Pierce men’s soccer team on its way to a 4-0 win over Post University in the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament Saturday at Sodexo Field in Rindge.
Graduate student Antonio Santos Ferreira scored for the Ravens in the 36th minute to break the ice, then senior Marco Valero doubled the Ravens’ lead with 1:35 left in the half to put Franklin Pierce ahead 2-0 at the break.
Graduate student Miguel Angel Pastor Gutierrez cushioned the lead with a goal in the 52nd minute and the Ravens were cruising to the Sweet 16 from there.
Post started an extra defender — a look Franklin Pierce is used to seeing this year — which kept the Franklin Pierce offense at bay for the first chunk of the opening half before the Ravens made some substitutions and started to settle into possession about 12 minutes into the game.
“I don’t think we started the game well,” said head coach Ruben Resendes. “Guys were nervous, making a lot of simple mistakes that we don’t typically make. But eventually, guys worked themselves into the game.”
Franklin Pierce had some looks at the net before Santos Ferreira put the Ravens ahead on a free kick.
“When the score is 0-0, both teams are scared to take risks,” Santos Ferreira said. “When we scored the first goal, then we started managing the game and that was important for us. It had a massive impact.”
“It was a breath of fresh air,” Resendes said. “The guys played great in the run of play after that. Sometimes it’s a restart that gets you through, and Tony stepped up in that moment.”
Valero then put the Ravens ahead 2-0 at the end of the first half.
Angel Pastor Gutierrez made it 3-0 at the start of the second half, then graduate student Pedro Juan Vicente iced the game with a penalty kick goal in the 77th minute.
Junior Kosta Maniatis only needed to make one save on the night, which came in the fifth minute. The Ravens defense took care of the rest.
“The group is really happy,” Santos Ferreira said. “The win today means we’re going to keep working together for at least two more weeks, so we are excited for the next game coming.”
Franklin Pierce outshot Post, 13-4.
With the 2020 DII national tournament canceled due to the COVID pandemic, Saturday marked Franklin Pierce’s first NCAA tournament game since 2019, when they made it to the quarterfinal round before losing to the eventual national champions.
“This is always the goal,” Resendes said. “Having your season go on as long as you possibly can is always our goal. Just great to be able to play during Thanksgiving break and we’re going to be playing soccer in December which is what it’s all about.”
“This group deserves to play games like this,” said Santos Ferreira, who was part of that 2019 team. “This group is made for the big challenges like we have in front of us. We’re excited and focused.”
After a break for Thanksgiving, the Ravens will host Millersville University in the third round of the NCAA DII national tournament on Thursday, Dec. 2.
Millersville beat Gannon University in penalty kicks Saturday night.