Spartans Down SUNY Poly in Home Opener, 3-1

Spartans Down SUNY Poly in Home Opener, 3-1

CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton men's soccer team capitalized on early opportunities and played strong defense to defeat visiting SUNY Poly, 3-1, in its first home match of the 2017 season Tuesday night at Spartan Stadium.

Castleton improves to 1-2 with the win, while SUNY Poly falls to 0-2 on the season following the loss.

After inclement weather delayed the start nearly 30 minutes, the Spartans wasted no time getting on the board. 56 seconds, in fact, was all it took for Castleton to take the lead. Jack Kingdon was awarded a free kick opportunity just outside the 18-yard box. Kingdon took advantage, beaming a shot to the top-right corner of the net past outstretched SUNY Poly goalkeeper Alexander Gigliotti to give the Spartans an edge they never relinquished.

Seraphin Iradukunda doubled the Spartans' lead just less than seven minutes later, notching his first of two goals on the night with a put-back after Gigliotti came out of the net to counter a Spartan attack. Gigliotti was able to block momentarily, but Iradukunda collected a loose ball to the left side and delivered it into the empty net to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead.

Back-and-forth action saw SUNY Poly nab a goal back in the 37th minute, as Benjamin Alonge finished a long through ball from Andrew Kessler to cut the deficit in half. Kessler's pass came from roughly 30 yards out and found Alonge at the right side of the net, where he sent a low shot into the corner past Spartan goalkeeper Aaron Parker to make the score, 2-1.

The Spartans responded quickly, however, spreading the margin back to two less than 10 minutes later. Iradukunda retrieved a loose ball in his defensive zone and outran the Wildcats' defensive unit straight through the center of the pitch. In a 1-on-1 with the keeper, Iradukunda sent a low shot inside the right post to give the Spartans a 3-1 advantage.

The halftime score proved to be the final, as neither team was able to find the back of the net over the final 45 minutes. Both sides shared opportunities, but shots were firing wide until Fidele Rutayisire forced a save in the 65th minute. Kessler searched for the Wildcats' second goal of the night in the 85th minute, but his shot sailed wide and the Spartans were able to clear. The Spartan defense blocked three SUNY Poly shots in the second half and held the Wildcats to zero shots on goal in the final stanza.

Parker finished the night with three total saves and improved to 1-2 on the season in net. Gigliotti made five saves on eight shots but fell to 0-2 on the season after the loss.

Castleton held an advantage in shots, 14-12, including eight on goal to SUNY Poly's four. Iradukunda led the way with three shots on goal, while Rutayisire and Jacob Godfrey each finished with two. The Spartans had five corner kicks, while the Wildcats finished with four.

The Spartans will stay at home to face Clarkson on Friday in another non-conference matchup starting at 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.