FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart men's soccer team led 3-1 at halftime on Sunday against the Central Connecticut Blue Devils at halftime, but the visitors scored three unanswered goals to win 4-3 in overtime. Sophomore Mahmoud Kafel (Fairfield, Conn.) had two goals and an assist for the Pioneers.
Sacred Heart (3-9, 0-2 NEC) opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Kieran Walsh (River Vale, N.J.) hit a free kick to Jamal Vinson (Teaneck, N.J.) inside the 18-yard box. Vinson then headed the ball to the back post where Kafel found it and slammed it into the back of the net to put the Pioneers ahead 1-0. The Blue Devils responded in the seventh minute when Eddy Bogle headed the ball to Keir Hannity inside the box. Hannity did as Kafel did two minutes earlier, sliding the ball inside the back post to tie the game 1-1.
On the ensuing restart, Sacred Heart took back the lead. Walsh found a streaking Kafel right up the middle of the pitch and Kafel shot the ball past the goalkeeper to make the score 2-1. The Pioneers kept attacking as shots by Christiano Lopes (South Windsor, Conn.) and Aaron Burrell (Tampa, Fla.) were stopped by Blue Devils goalkeeper Josef Abele. Sacred Heart extended its lead in the 43rd minute, when Kafel found Lopes on the back post off a run to make the score 3-1. It was Lopes' first career goal, putting the Pioneers up by two goals at halftime.
Central Connecticut got back within a goal in the 68th minute when Manny Nobre made a run up the middle of the field, knifing through the Pioneers' defense. He then played the ball off to Zach Zurita who fired a shot past Sacred Heart goalkeeper Tucker Hackett (Madison, Conn.) to make the score 3-2. The Blue Devils tied the game in the 89th minute. Nobre found a loose ball though a lot of traffic in the box and hit a shot into the upper half of the net, making the score 3-3 with 1:06 remaining on the clock with overtime looming. Central Connecticut earned a corner two minutes into the extra session. Stephen Walmsley took the corner. The kick found Conor Qualter who headed it in to give the Blue Devils the 4-3 win and three crucial points in the Northeast Conference standings.
Sacred Heart outshot Central Connecticut 16-13 for the game. Abele made five saves for the Blue Devils as Hackett had three for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers now play their next three games on the road, starting next Sunday, Oct. 20 at Bryant. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.