Eagles settle for 1-1 tie in soggy home opener

Staff photo by TOM KING Nashua Eagles forward Ryan Simpson tries to push the ball toward the net in front of the hands of Mass United goalkeeper Yassine Smissame during the teams' 1-1 tie on Saturday in the rain at Rivier University.

NASHUA – There can’t be anything much worse than kissing your sister in the rain, right?

Basically that’s what the Eagles of the International Soccer Club of Nashua had to endure in their damp home opener on Saturday at Rivier University’s Raider Field.

The Eagles, who led most of the way, had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Mass United as the visitors scored in the 83rd minute. And, of course, the damp,raw, cold weather kept the crowd down to just under 100.

“We had a pretty good turnout,” team co-owner Jared Barbosa said. “Good for the first game, expecially considering the weather.”

Ah, but that tie. The Eagles had a goal in the first two minutes, as top scorer and former Franklin Pierce standout Quincy Appah netted his sixth goal of the year on a quick feed from Sanjay Gurung.

He beat Mass United netminder Yassine Smissame, who got even four minutes later when he robbed Appah on a penalty kick. That and a crossbar that robbed the Eagles in the second half kept them in third place in the United Premier Socer League’s Patriot Divison at 2-1-2, and Mass United in second at 3-1-1.

“I was trying for the far corner,” Appah said. “I was trying to get my foot around it.”

“The PK man,” bemoaned Eagles coach Jerold White. “You put that in, you kind of ice it a little bit. But they (Mass United) came back with some energy and some fire. We got conservative.”

Through much of the game, Eagles goalie Kyle Connolly was spectacular with seven fantastic saves.

“This is great,” said Connolly, who is 28 and played his college ball at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. “To be able to play at this level post-college, with a lot of guys who are talented – I’m excited about this league and where it’s going.”

But he didn’t like where the ball was going with 7:11 remaining, as MU’s Jon Argueta’s free kick from the right side found the foot of Ibrahim Lewally, who found the far corner of the net on a bang-bang tying goal.

“I got caught a little bit out,” Connolly said. “It was at the near post, their diagonal runs were precise.”

It wasn’t too surprising, given the fact that Mass United dominated the second half.

“We had a lot of new players seeing action today, so it took a while to get going,” Mass United coach Jim Antonakas said. “But the depth of the team was fantastic and that’s what brought them back in this game.”

The Eagles are back in town with back-to-back games the weekend of June 2-3. They certainly hope for better weather to help bring out a bigger crowd and the festive atmosphere they were hoping for.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Appah said. “This was just one of those games. We can get more wins here.”

And perhaps more fans.