The United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners (6-4-0, 2-1-0) suffered their first home loss of the season Saturday night at the hands of the unbeaten University of Scranton Royals (8-0-1, 2-0-0) by a score of 2-1.
Even more impactful than it being Merchant Marine's first home loss, was the fact that it was their first Landmark Conference defeat of the season. The setback ended the Mariners two-game win streak and run of four wins in their previous five contests.
The Mariners out-chanced the Royals by a 16-14 margin, however, it was Scranton that was able to generate better quality chances; especially in the first half. The only Mariner shot on goal, was the one that beat the keeper in the final minute of regulation.
Royals senior midfielder Kevin Romanauskas opened the scoring in the 37th minute when his shot was partially deflected by Mariners junior goalkeeper Stephen Fucito. Fucito just couldn't quite get enough of the ball to stop it from rolling in the net for a 1-0 Scranton lead; a score which would stand until the end of the half.
Merchant Marine came out firing in the second half and had a couple of great opportunities in the opening minutes. The Mariners hit the post twice in the first ten minutes and had a header by freshman midfielder Erik Kempinski sail just high of the crossbar.
Surviving the Kings Point onslaught, Scranton was able to generate an attack of their own as sophomore midfielder Rich Loeffler extended the Royals lead to 2-0 in the 77th minute.
The Mariners kept fighting and working hard to gain momentum down by a pair in the closing minutes. With 27 second left to play junior forward Tim Anthone scored his first of the year with an assist from sophomore defender Abboss Rezaie (pictured).
With very little time left, Scranton was able to run down the clock to preserve the 2-1 victory.
"Scranton came in as a very hot team and it was a terrific match," said Head Coach Mike Smolens. "It was well-played with both teams having a number of chances, and they were able to come away with the 2-1 win. While I'm disappointed with the loss, we were pleased that our team fought to the end and pulled back a goal. We need to regroup and be ready for some tough upcoming matches."
The Mariners begin a stretch of five consecutive road games and will not return to Kings Point until their season finale against a tough Susquehanna team currently ranked 16th in the country. Their next match will be against William & Paterson Tuesday October 2nd at 7:00 PM.