Fordham had plenty of reasons to celebrate a magical soccer season. (Photo courtesy of Fordham SID)
By Michael Lewis
The Fordham University men’s soccer team deserves a standing ovation for what it accomplished over the past several weeks.
It’s not easy finding success in the NCAA Division I men’s soccer tournament, whether you’re a highly seeded team or an underdog.
Unseeded teams traditionally do not reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I tournament, especially when they’re playing on the road and down in Atlantic Coast Conference country.
No mean feat at all.
The Rams started their drive with a 3-2 comeback win over St. Francis Brooklyn at home Nov. 16.
Then the degree of difficulty became much more difficult, given their opponents and venue.
They followed that up with a 1-0 victory at 11th-seeded University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Nov. 19.
And then they pulled out an 8-7 shootout triumph after playing to a 2-2 draw at sixth-seeded Duke University in Durham, N.C. in the Sweet 16 Nov. 25.
Fordham’s magical run came to an end Saturday night with a 2-1 defeat at the third-seeded University of North Carolina in Cary, N.C. The visitors battled hard and held on until Alan Winn’s winning goal in the 80th minute in their third game at an ACC school in 14 days.
Incredible, simply incredible.
The Rams in the process became the first Fordham men’s team to reach the final eight of a national championship tournament. The previous best was the 1970-71 basketball team, which qualified for the final 16 of the 1971 NCAA tournament.
Since the St. John’s University men captured the Division I crown in 1996, few, if any metropolitan area teams have enjoyed such a run in the soccer competition.
A hearty congratulations to head coach Jim McElderry and his team.
It was a remarkable achievement and while they might have felt down after the final whistle Saturday night, they should be proud of themselves.
And so should area soccer fans.