RINDGE — For the first time since 2011, the Franklin Pierce University men’s soccer team stands atop the Northeast-10 Conference.
The No. 4 nationally ranked Ravens claimed the fourth NE10 crown in program history (2006, 2010, 2011) on Saturday night at Sodexo Field, with a 2-1 win over No. 23 American International, on the strength of a pair of goals just 2:56 apart early in the second half.
With the win, the top-seeded Ravens improve to 19-1-0 and have won five straight, while AIC falls to 14-4-1, with two of the four losses coming at Franklin Pierce.
The win also gives Franklin Pierce the NE10’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship, while AIC will await word on a potential at-large bid. The NCAA will announce the tournament field on Monday at 6:30 p.m.
After a lightning delay of nearly an hour at the start, the first half was mostly quiet, with both teams finding their legs and feeling each other out. Graduate student Jonas Cervera Anchel nearly broke the deadlock for the Ravens in the 27th minute, as his shot would be the first to pose a test to either keeper and forced a diving save out of AIC graduate student Ioannis Iatroudis.
That half would end goalless, with shots showing 9-2 (4-1 on target) in favor of the Ravens.
The second half began with both sides showing more promise moving forward. The Ravens came out swinging and forced a pair of saves out of Iatroudis.
The deadlock finally broke in the 53rd minute. Freshman Braudilio Rodrigues picked his defender’s pocket on the touchline, cut inside, and curled the ball into the top right corner.
Just under three minutes later, in the 56th, graduate student Carlos Ferrando Felis added an insurance marker for the Ravens, off a header from freshman Vicente Valor Martinez.
American International earned one back through Mathis Pilon St. Louis in the 61st minute.
Franklin Pierce settled the game down and began to control possession, while bleeding precious time off the clock. A 70th-minute shot from freshman Love Lindborg, point blank and right down the middle, was the Yellow Jackets’ final threat of the evening.
Junior Kosta Maniatis (16-1-0) finished with three saves against four shots to pick up the win for FPU. Iatroudis (1-1-0) made five stops against seven shots and suffered the loss in front of the AIC net.