Fordham University gets a rare opportunity to avenge a defeat in the same season and get an added bonus– to move on in the NCAA Division I men’s soccer tournament.
The Rams take on Dartmouth in a first-round encounter in Hanover, N.H. Thursday at 5 p.m.
The teams played once before this season, with the Big Green prevailing, 2-0, on Sept. 28.
“Adds more fuel to the fire,” Fordham senior goalkeeper Sean Brailey said Tuesday.
Fordham (8-8-4) reached the Division I tournament for the first time in 18 years by winning the Atlantic 10 tournament, or since former MetroSrars/Red Bulls standout John Wolyniec was filling the net for the Rams as the NCAA scoring champion.
In 1996, the Rams played St. John’s in an opening-round encounter, losing to a juggernaut that eventually became the Division I champions that year.
It is not known whether Dartmouth (11-4-1) has similar qualities to the Red Storm, but head coach Jim McElderry is confident in his team’s chances, given its recent results.
“This year we stayed healthy and hit our stride at the right time,” he said.
Entering the game, Brailey, a Massapequa, N.Y. native, and McElderry know the pitfalls.
Having played the Big Green before this season, they know a lot about their Ivy League opponents.
On the other hand, they are playing on the road.
Brailey has become a key performer, helping freshmen defenders become productive players on the backline.
The 6-3 goalkeeper also has stood out, making a vital save with three seconds remaining to preserve a 1-0 win over Saint Louis University in the A-10 semifinals, tapping the ball out of play just as time expired.
Other key players include senior midfielder Ollie Kelly from London, England and junior center back Ryan Cupolo of Astoria, N.Y., who was able to play every game this season without injury.
“It’s not a one-man team by any stretch,” McElderry said.
During the Atlantic 10 tournament, sixth-seeded Rams defeated No. 3 Virginia Commonwealth University, No. 2 Saint Louis and No. 1 University of Rhode Island.
That was pretty impressive.
If the Rams continue their recent fine form and win, they will head to Providence, R.I. to take on Providence College this weekend.