You couldn’t have scripted a better way to end the season. The Rhode Island College men’s soccer team posted a 4-0 victory over Southern Maine on senior day in which three seniors scored, one posted a shutout in net and the only other senior recorded a hat trick earlier in the week in a 4-3 victory over Johnson and Wales.
With the pair of victories, the Anchormen (11-7, 5-2 LEC) finished the regular season in a tie for second place in the Little East Conference standings with Keene State. The Owls hold the tiebreaker thanks to a head-to-head, 2-0, win over the Anchormen during the regular season. Keene State will host the third-seeded Anchormen on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in semifinal action of the 2011 Little East Conference Tournament.
“It doesn’t get much better then ending the season and heading into the Little East Conference Tournament on a four game win streak,” said RIC senior defender Troy Silvia.
The Anchormen started off last week with the Hector Espildora Fortuno show rolling into Johnson and Wales on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The Wildcats jumped out to a 3-1 lead at the end of the first half, but Espildora Fortuno went to work in the second half netting a pair of unassisted goals only 14 minutes apart to tie the game at three. The overtime period proved to be stalemate in the early going as neither team had an outstanding scoring chance. After several minutes of back and forth action, Espildora Fortuno kicked it into high gear. The senior forward capped of his hat trick effort eight minutes into overtime he buried a leaping header off a cross from freshman defender Patrick LaRoche. The win extended the Anchormen’s winning streak to three games, their longest streak of the season.
Riding the senior wave, the Anchormen wasted no time putting the game winning goal up on the board against Southern Maine as senior Bruno Costa tipped a Donald Dane shot into the back of the net just three minutes into the game. The rest of the first half was uneventful on the score sheet but Southern Maine proved they were going to put up a defensive fight. Entering the second half, the senior class began to put on a show for their family and friends in attendance. Just 1:23 into the half, senior forward Mike Patriarca put away his sixth goal of the year. Shortly after, Dane was tripped up in the box resulting in a penalty kick. Silvia was called in to take it and happily ripped a shot past Southern Maine freshman goalkeeper Ian Oliverto. “I was surprised coach called on me for the penalty kick, but I knew I was going to bury it,” said Silvia. LaRoche closed out the scoring with the first goal of his career in the final minutes.
Keene State, battling for home field advantage in the Little East Conference Tournament coming into the weekend, ended the Anchormen’s hopes of hosting a tournament game with a 6-1 victory over Western Connecticut to clinch home field advantage. The Anchormen and the Owls has developed into one of the best rivalries in the Little East Conference over the past two seasons. Keene State knocked off RIC in the 2010 Little East Championship game, a game that the senior class in particular, has not forgotten about as they prepare to face the Owls in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. “It’s going to be a battle up there,” said Silvia. “We don’t like them, they don’t like us, and it’s win or go home.”