MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The Salisbury University men's soccer team traveled to Montclair State University to take on Tufts University of the New England Small College Athletic Conference in a NCAA tournament first-round match and fell 2-1 in the Gulls' first-ever meeting with a NESCAC foe.
After watching Tufts (10-4-3) control the opening minutes of play, Salisbury (13-4-3) got its first break down field and did not pass up on the opportunity. After ball movement between Leslie Umunna and Dennis Runikera, Jr., got the ball into Jumbos territory, Umunna took the ball inside the 18 to the right of the goal and got the goalkeeper out of position and moved the ball over to Runikera, who one touched the ball from inside the six and to the left of the net for his second marker on the season. The assist was the first for Umunna in the maroon and gold.
In the 22nd minute, Connor Schaible got a lane to the left of the Salisbury 18 and ripped a shot to the low right that senior keeper Drew Staedeli was able to make a sliding save on, getting his body on the low attempt.
Just minutes later, after a Tufts foul, Salisbury worked the ball in the Tufts zone and Brad Martinelli took a shot from the left of the Jumbos' cage that keeper Scott Greenwood made a full-extension diving stop on.
To continue the back-and-forth play, Tufts countered off the save and worked it into Salisbury's defensive zone and earned a corner. Off the corner taken by Rui Pinheiro, Daniel Sullivan got a head on the ball and placed it inside the left post to tie the game, 1-1 in the 25th minute.
After conceding the goal, Salisbury went on a stretch starting at 28:42 where it got three corner kicks and two shots in under a minute of play to put the pressure on the Jumbos.
At half's end, Tufts held a 7-4 edge in shots, including four on net to Salisbury's two.
Early in the second half, Staedeli was tested often as he made a reactionary-glove save on a header that was going to the top shelf; then a diving stop on a Jumbos' shot that came off of a corner kick which he snagged out of midair.
In the 62nd minute Tufts tacked on its second goal when Gaston Becherano found Connor Brown just inside the 18 and Brown blasted the bouncing pass into the left side of the Salisbury net to put the Jumbos up, 2-1.
Down the final stretch, Salisbury would get chances as Cy McNeill had a shot blocked in the 68th minute and Umunna had a shot that Greenwood saved in the 85th, but the Sea Gulls could not come up with the equalizer.
At the final whistle, Tufts had 10 shots on goal while Salisbury put four on Greenwood.
Staedeli ended the day with eight saves, good for the third-highest save total in his career.