KEENE, N.H. – The Castleton men's soccer team put together a late offensive surge, but could not find the equalizer down the stretch as Keene State held on for a 2-1 victory Wednesday night at the Owls Athletic Complex.
Following the loss, Castleton fell to 1-5 on the season. Keene State improved to 2-0-2 with the win.
Trailing 2-0 late in the match, Castleton came away with multiple chances in the waning minutes to cut the deficit in half. Seraphin Iradukunda broke away from the defensive back line with just over seven minutes left but an offside call kept the Spartans away from setting up an offensive attack. Minutes later, Iradukunda took possession near midfield and weaved through the Owls' defensive unit before firing a clean shot from just inside the box, but the Keene State goalkeeper was able to get his hands on it.
With just under two minutes left in regulation, Castleton finally broke through with Abinash Rai collecting his first career goal on an assist from Cam Rossi-Crete. Deep in the offensive zone, Rossi-Crete fed a cross to Rai at the top of the box, where he swirled a high shot into the top-right corner of the net to make the score 2-1.
Keene State was able to recover from there, maintaining possession over the final 1:58 to hold off the Spartans.
A back-and-forth first half was scoreless for 40 minutes before Keene State got on the board just before halftime. Riley Steele released a low shot on goal that snuck inside the left post to give the home team a 1-0 advantage at the break.
The Spartans came out strong in the second half with a pair of early opportunities to draw the score even. Iradukunda sent a low shot through traffic that was saved, before lofting a header off the crossbar in the 60th minute.
It was the Owls, however, who struck first in the second half to stretch their lead to two goals. Steele fired a shot that was blocked inside the box, but the redirection went to Brandon Castor, who sent the rebound to the back of the net for what proved to be a crucial goal that made the score 2-0 in the 67th minute.
Iradukunda led the Spartans with three shots on goal, while Jacob Godfrey, Colby Gay, and Rai each added one to the net. Aaron Parker finished the night with five saves despite falling to 1-5 on the season.
Keene State held a slight advantage in shots, 13-11, including 7-6 on goal. Corner kicks finished 4-3 in favor of Keene State, while the Spartans committed 10 fouls to the Owls' 12.
The Spartans return to action Saturday when they travel to New England College for the conference opener at 2:30 p.m.