CASTLETON, Vt. – After battling Keene State down to the wire in a hard-fought, 2-1 loss Wednesday evening, the Castleton men's soccer team (1-5) will look to bounce back over the weekend when it opens North Atlantic Conference play at New England College (1-2-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The Spartans came up just short in the match at Keene State but created plenty of opportunities down the stretch to force pressure on the Owls. After trailing 2-0 in the second half, Abinash Rai cut the deficit in half with his first career goal with just under two minutes left. Seraphin Iradukunda earned a pair of chances late, including a header that went off the crossbar, but the Owls were able to prevail for the tight victory.
Iradukunda leads the Castleton offense with two goals and one assist on the season. Derek Blouin, Colby Gay, Jack Kingdon, and Rai have each tallied one goal for the Spartan offense, which is averaging a goal per game. After surrendering a combined four second-half goals against Clarkson and SUNY Potsdam, the Spartans showed promise of breaking out against the Owls, coming away with arguably one of their best offensive performances of the season in the second half of that match.
The Spartan defense enters the weekend averaging 2.46 goals against per contest. Aaron Parker has made all six starts in goal this season, posting 27 saves with a .643 save percentage in 529 minutes of action.
Defending NAC Champion New England College comes into the weekend looking to rebound from back-to-back one-goal losses against Nichols and Wheaton. The Pilgrims are averaging 15 shots and 1.50 goals per game on the offensive end. Michael Skarbelis leads the squad with three goals and an assist on the season. Panagiotis Galatas has a goal and an assist, while Cooper Valinski and Sina Samali have each tallied one goal thus far.
Defensively, Tenzin Khenrab leads the Pilgrims with three starts between the pipes. Khenrab has allowed four goals in 256 minutes, good for a 1.40 goals-against average and a .833 save percentage en route to his 0-1-1 record. Robbie Ferguson has the lone win in goal for the Pilgrims with seven saves and three goals allowed in 123 minutes.
Castleton fell to New England College, 2-1, in the NAC semifinals last season. The Spartans earned a 2-1 victory over the Pilgrims in the regular season.