By Brandon Schlager
Niagara Gazette — The Niagara University men’s soccer team lost one match this season.
On Oct. 19, the Purple Eagles traveled to Loudonville to take on Siena for the only scheduled matchup between the MAAC opponents. They outshot the Saints, 15-8, but gave up a goal in the 42nd minute that ended Niagara's 12-game winning streak.
The No. 3 Purple Eagles (11-1-4, 5-1-1 MAAC) will have redemption on their minds this evening when they arrive at the campus of Marist College for a rematch against No. 2 Siena at 7 p.m. during the first round of the MAAC Championships.
“We have a second chance to make something right,” Niagara coach Chase Brooks said. “We’re very excited about our chance at redemption. I told the guys it’s not every day that you get another shot to make things right. It’s our chance to do that.”
The Saints (10-6, 6-1 MAAC) enter on a three-game winning streak dating back to their win against Niagara. Their last two victories over Canisius and Marist helped them snag the second seed over the Purple Eagles.
Niagara qualified for postseason play for the seventh time in the past eight seasons clicking as a team. Sixteen Purple Eagles have scored at least one point this season. Callum Willmott leads the team with eight goals and 18 points with Bryan Da Cruz and Rene De Zorzi each chipping in four scores.
“It really has been a team effort,” Brooks said. “This is one of the first teams I’ve been involved in to have this many players contribute in the score column.”
The Saints will counter with an attack led by MAAC Offensive Player of the Year candidate Sindre Ek, whose 12 goals and 29 points tied for the conference lead this season.
“That’s a good soccer team,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have to move the ball well. We outshot them last time but couldn’t hit on our chances. It’s going to come down to whether we can take advantage of them this time around.”
The winner of the semifinal match will play at 8 p.m. Saturday for the MAAC title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championships.
Brooks said the Purple Eagles enter the postseason very much on the bubble to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament as their season hinges on the outcome of tonight’s match.
“Our season’s probably done if we don’t win [tonight],” Brooks said. “Taking care of our second chances is the theme for this one.”