BUFFALO, NY - The Iona College men's soccer team clinched a berth into the 2013 MAAC Championship in Fairfield, CT in two weeks with a 3-1 victory over Canisius at Demske Sports Complex. The Gaels erased an early deficit with three unanswered goals to seal a top four spot in the MAAC standings.
Canisius got on the board in the 18th minute when Denver Spearman put home an Asani Samuels rebound. Samuels carried the ball up the left site and put a shot on net. The loose ball after rookie netminder Julian Petrello’s save was quickly touched into the back of the net to give the Golden Griffins a 1-0 advantage.
In the 38th minute, senior Franklin Castellanos buried a free kick from just outside the penalty box to knot the score at 1-1. Castellanos bent a shot around the defensive wall and beat Canisius GK John Hollinger in the upper left corner of the net.
Four and a half minutes later, the Gaels got a go ahead goal by with the assist of a Golden Griffin defender. Castellanos started the play again with a free kick from about 35 yards out to the left side of the goal. He served a ball to classmate Samuel Adjei along the end line to the right of the net. Adjei sent a cross towards junior Ignacio Maganto who just missed on the redirect attempt. The ball settled on the foot of Canisius defender Jon Carey and deflected into the net to give Iona a 2-1 lead with less than four minutes left in the first half.
The Golden Griffins had a 9-2 shot advantage in the opening 45 minutes but Iona had the 2-1 lead on the scoreboard.
The Maroon & Gold got a key insurance goal in the 85th minute. It was Castellanos again, scoring his eighth tally of the season to give Iona a 3-1 lead. Adjei took the ball straight up the middle of the field and found Michael Holzer to his right at the top of the box. Holzer one-timed a pass to Castellanos who settled the ball and made a nifty chip to himself past the defender Spearman before blasting a shot past Hollinger for his second goal of the game.
Petrello made six saves to earn the win while Hollinger stopped one attempt. The Golden Griffins outshot the Gaels 14-9 for the game with the help of the decisive first half advantage.
With the win, the Gaels extended their winning streak to four games and have won six of their last seven contests. One match remains in the regular season for Iona when they host Manhattan Wednesday on Senior Day. The game has playoff seeding implications for both teams. The Gaels need a win or tie to seal a No. 2 or No. 3 seed while the Jaspers are fighting for one of the remaining two open spots. With an Iona win and a Qunnipiac loss or tie in one of their two remaining games, the Maroon & Gold can secure the No. 2 seed.