SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's soccer team played host to Eastern University and fell 1-0 in a battle of ranked opponents on Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, both teams were nationally ranked as Salisbury was picked No. 12 by D3Soccer.com and No. 22 by the NSCAA poll. Eastern received votes in the D3Soccer.com poll and picked up the No. 14 ranking in the NSCAA poll
With the loss, Salisbury goes to 5-2, while Eastern stays undefeated and improves to 7-0-1.
Eastern came out of the gate quickly as they took the first five shots of the game, but Salisbury settled in and eventually got the first serious scoring chance of the game when sophomore midfielder Kendrick Michel had the ball on his foot inside the 18 and got a shot to the left post that Eastern keeper Quentin Keibler was able to get a hand on. The rebound from Michel's shot was promising, but the assistant referee signaled the Sea Gulls offside and negated its promising attack.
Keibler was shaken up on the play and Eastern went to junior keeper Jamie Stratton to finish the game for the Eagles.
In the 39th minute, just eight minutes after the goaltender change, Eastern broke the stalemate. The Eagles were awarded a corner kick and JD Saracco took the kick from the left side of the field. Saracco's kick found a cutting Sean Dougherty just outside the six-yard box, aligned with the center of the Salisbury net. Dougherty headed the ball to the far-right post for the score.
Four minutes after Eastern's tally, Salisbury got its best chance to notch the equalizer on an acrobatic attempt by Leslie Umunna. Salisbury was creating offense inside the Eastern 18 yard box when the ball was deflected high into the air. Umunna got under the floating ball and posted up his defender. When the ball was coming down, but still above his head, Umunna flung his body into the air and unleashed a power bicycle kick to the left side of the net. Stratton dove backwards and to his right and got a fleeting hand on the ball to guide it out of bounds for his first save of the season.
The second half would see Salisbury take four shots but it could not get into the scoring column. The best chance to even the score came with just nine minutes remaining when the Sea Gulls pressure led to a Matt Greene corner kick that Eastern was able to mark up on and keep out of its net.
Senior keeper Drew Staedeli (5-2) got the loss for Salisbury but still collected an impressive six saves. Stratton (1-0) was awarded the win in relief for the Eagles.
Salisbury next takes the pitch on Saturday, September 26 when it opens up Capital Athletic Conference play at home against York College of Pennsylvania. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.