Keydets Battle NJIT to a 1-1 Draw in Physical Home Opener
Courtesy: for VMI
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Post Game Interview with Captains Daniel Kitchen and Blake McCauley at the Bottom

LEXINGTON, Va. - In a physical match, the Virginia Military Institute men’s soccer team opened its short home slate with a 1-1 draw against the New Jersey Institute of Technology Friday night at Patchin Field. The game featured 31 fouls and six cards.

Getting on the board for the first time in 2013, Blake McCauley put VMI (0-2-1) up a goal, but the Highlanders knotted the game 15 minutes later before a stalemate the rest of the game.

McCauley received a pass from Taylor Rafaly near the top of the box before splitting through a pair of defenders and juking a third before ripping his shot to the top left corner, safely out of the reach belonging to NJIT keeper Alexander Czempik. McCauley’s 10th-minute goal was his first since Oct. 20, 2012, ending a five-game drought.

“We played the ball out wide to Taylor Rafaly, he had a nice turn and played a through ball over the top and a couple of quick touches and I put the shot past the keeper,” McCauley, one of the team’s co-captains.

With the draw, VMI is now 19-20-3 all-time in home openers, including 1-1-2 under fourth-year head coach Richie Rose. The draw was the first such result for VMI when playing on Sept. 6 and the Keydets are now 2-3-1 on that date.

But the Highlanders deadlocked the contest with a free kick in the 23 minute as Matija Blazic sent in a strong cross to the head of Cristian Marcel in a crowded box.

McCauley led VMI’s offensive attack, putting all three of his shots on goal. Sophomore Kyle Forché took three attempts while Wes Saupe accounted for two shots, including one of VMI’s five on goal.

“This year we’re trying to focus on offense, last year we focused on defense,” said McCauley. “Bringing in a lot of freshmen that are attacking, I feel like we’re getting better and better as the year goes on.”

The Highlanders (0-2-1) out-shot VMI 15-11 during the 110 minute match. Marcel took a game-high five attempts and scored on his only shot on frame. Franco Gamero attempted four shots while Tommy Osipitan took two shots, both on goal.

Daniel Kitchen was stout in goal yet again, making five saves, all coming in the second half. He was not challenged during the overtime period.

Opposite Kitchen, Czempik made four saves, including three in the overtime stanzas. The Keydets put both of their shots on goal in the first overtime, followed by a third in the second extra period.

Four yellow cards and two straight red cards were given out during the game. Two yellows went to each team while one player from either side was given a red following a scuffle at the end of the second overtime period.

VMI returns to action on Wednesday night when they play local rival James Madison University. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. at the Dukes’ University Park.