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Fordham is a Soccer School Now



Fordham University


Fordham is a Soccer School Now

Here's how you can do your part


Read time: 6 minutes.

by Jonathan Chen and Freelance Writer Matthew Iannone

Ultras: the heart of any soccer team. While teams battle it out on the pitch, fans engage in their own war from the stands. United in numbers, the true diehards celebrate their team by crying out chants and cheers, relentlessly “chirping” at the opposition, and giving in to human nature’s tribal instincts in support of their team. Why so passionate? Perhaps it's the drama created from the swinging momentum of the game, or maybe the intrinsic need to be a stakeholder in greatness.

As the Fordham Men’s Varsity soccer team prepares for their quarterfinal game this Saturday at the University of North Carolina, fans must steel their stomachs for turmoil as well. Heading into the weekend with a record of 14-5-3, and coming off an exhilarating win against Duke, the lads are, in the words of senior co-captain Matt Lewis, “buzzing.” And, quite frankly, so are Fordham students.

The Rams’ path in the NCAA tournament has not been without trial. The St. Francis College Terriers were sent back to Brooklyn with their tails between their legs after Joergan Oland scored an overtime goal for the Rams during the first round of the NCAA tournament. Fordham students and alumni also had an impressive showing, packing the stands and bringing the noise in support of the team. The Fordham fans’ passion for the team was evident as they stormed the field in celebration following the win, which meant that the men’s soccer team would play the University of Virginia next in the Sweet 16.

Late game heroics from senior Eric Ohlendorf sealed the deal against Virginia, as the forward headed home an assist from Jannik Loebe in the 83rd minute. Back in the Bronx, fan support continued to grow. Social media exploded as game highlights, articles, and interviews flooded newsfeeds. Friendly banter between opposing fans spread from the bleachers to Twitter and Instagram as accusations of fraudulent majors, butchered haircuts, and a love of Chipotle Queso were tossed back and forth. (That’s right, UVA, we saw you licking that nasty melted cheese off your fingers before the game).

The growing bloodlust of the fans finally received its most worthy rallying point during Duke’s opening salvo against one of our own, Owen Lawrence, a junior on the soccer team. When asked if Duke’s unwarranted attack affected his playing, Owen states that he “didn’t even see the tweet ‘til after the game.” At this point, it was too late for the Blue Devils, having already been choked to sleep by junior goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu’s exceptional performance in net (and his strong, smooth, manly, sensual, sensitive, protective, caressing, dancing hands). After a late Bart Dziedzic goal forced the game into overtime, and eventually a penalty shootout, Nuhu denied Duke from the spot, with senior backup goalie Jordan Black scoring the game winning penalty to send Fordham through to the next round against UNC.

Veerrrrry nice, Owen. Very niiiiice.

However, our squad’s silencing of Duke is no excuse for us Rams to be quiet on the sidelines. According to senior co-captain Chris Bazzini, he often “[hears] the buzz of the crowd and that can definitely play a factor [in team performance].” Furthermore, many of our star players hail from far away lands such as Germany and Ghana and do not have the benefit of seeing their family at every game. As a native Texan, Owen Lawrence admits it is “tough being from far away,” as he doesn’t “always have people in the crowd.” That’s where intrepid Rams come in. Senior Pete Escribano recognizes the team’s historic campaign. “I can’t miss out on a run like this,” says Escribano. “After Rashid buried that penalty with his back turned against Duke, my friends and I booked our flights immediately. No brainer. Our boys have what it takes to compete with the best and we’re going all the way.”

Bazzini and Lawrence take some time to hang with the fans. #FordhamIsaSoccerSchool #FearTheBeard

Whether you’re going to the viewing party at Howl *wink wink* or watching at home, your support means a lot to our players. According to Bazzini, the reception is “phenomenal.” “People coming up to me and congratulating me… is honestly the most amazing feeling,” says Bazzini, “it puts more pressure on us - in a good way - because we don’t want to let [you all] down.” This tournament run has been an unexpected whirlwind; in the words of senior benchwarmer Mateo Gowland: “I can’t believe it.” But we believe in you, Mateo, and one way or another we will be with y’all in North Carolina. Go Rams.

Header photo courtesy of Fordham Sports.