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Ahman's OT header keeps Pride's playoff hopes alive

By Max Sass, Sports Editor

"You gotta believe. Who said that? What American said ‘you gotta believe?" Richard Nuttall asked after his men's soccer team beat Drexel on Wednesday night. Tug McGraw said it when he was pitching for the Mets in the early 1970's, but it is the rallying cry Nuttall will believe in as his team moves forward.

Despite being at the bottom of the table after six Colonial Athletic Association games, Nuttall believes the Pride can still make a run at the CAA Tournament.

Freshman midfielder Lukas Ahman's goal with 30 seconds left in the first overtime won the game for the Pride and kept its playoff hopes alive.

The best opportunity for the Pride came for junior forward Brett Carrington in the thirty-fourth minute when he gathered a rebound from 12 yards out with just the goalkeeper to beat, but struck the ball weakly and Drexel's goalkeeper was able to field it easily.

The Pride almost struck at the end of the half when senior forward Johannes Grahn fed a through ball to senior midfielder Steven Ehrics in Drexel's box, but Ehrics could not control before Drexel's goalkeeper slid in to save the ball.

Carrington had another opportunity in the second half, when in the sixty-eighth minute he turned with the ball and slipped between two defenders, but his left footed shot went too high.

In the eighty-eighth minute, sophomore midfielder Mike Annaruma fed Ahman at the penalty spot, but Ahman mishit the ball on a one-time chance.

Neither team had an excellent opportunity to score in overtime before freshman defender Shaun Foster, playing in an offensive position, crossed the ball from left to right and hit Ahman at the back post. Ahman's bouncing header across the goal sealed the game for the Pride.

The win is the Pride's second CAA victory and moves the team into a tie for eighth place in the conference with George Mason and Delaware. "Each game is a cup final," Nuttall said, emphasizing the importance of every game for the rest of the season.

Foster earned a yellow card in the game for an intentional handball, which was his fifth of the season and leaves him unavailable for the Pride's next game due to suspension.

"I thought it was harsh, the yellow was harsh, but I understood it," Nuttall said. "He [Foster] is massive, you can see he's the best player on the field by far and probably the best defender in the conference."

After the game, Nuttall said he did not think the goal was ever going to come and the Pride would be forced to settle for another tie. "Just outwardly, you've got to remain positive and upbeat," he said, "but inwardly you're thinking here we go again."

Before beating Drexel, the Pride fought to a scoreless draw against Delaware on Saturday night.

The game was the second straight start for freshman goalkeeper Roberto Pelligrini, who pitched a shutout after allowing four goals in his first start at Northeastern. "He's been doing well in practice and again I think he showed today he's a quality keeper who'll be good for this program," Nuttall said after the game.

Greg Cumpstone, who had started 10 of the first 11 games of the season may be losing his grasp on the starting position despite being second on the school list of clean sheets. "I think it's neck and neck," Nuttall said of the goalkeeper competition.

Last season, the Pride beat Delaware 6-0 in Newark, DE to spur its season on, but it was unable to score this year against the Blue Hens, much to Nuttall's dismay. "We pushed people up, we were going for the win to be honest," he said.

Senior forward Johannes Grahn (10) is upended by a Drexel defender in the Pride's 1-0 win. (Sean M. Gates/ The Chronicle)

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