Despite playing in different conferences, a rich history exists between the Manhattan Jaspers and the Fordham Rams, given their close proximity, something that could be felt as both teams locked horns last Sunday for the 26th annual “Battle of the Bronx” game.
Another page was added to that history when, by the battle’s 90th, Manhattan found itself on the wrong side of a Fordham 2-0 victory.
The score reflected Fordham’s advantage in nearly every category, including shots (22-4), shots on goal (10-3), and corner kicks (11-2).
“We played hard against a very good team, but gave up two moments that they capitalized on,” Jaspers head coach Brendan Lawler said after the game.
Over the years Fordham has established dominance in the annual contest over the years, bringing a 16-8-1 advantage into this year’s battle. It’s even better when the Rams are at home, owning a 10-5 record against the Jaspers.
Although it rained steadily all game long, many former players came out to see their old squads on the field, even though ultimately, the game was decided in just two minutes of play.
Right before the half, Fordham’s Emma Johnson scored her first career goal.
Then, barely into the first minute of the second half, Clara Gostaldi knocked another through the net to complete all the scoring either side would see.
Manhattan’s Eve Montgomery, Maddie Barrow and Annie Doerr each offered valiant attempts at goal, but were simply unable to convert those shots into points.
The most promising of these attempts came from Montgomery in the 87th minute, as the freshman was denied by goalkeeper Kelly LaMorte in what was seemingly the final straw for Manhattan.
LaMorte, a junior beginning her second season as a starter, recorded her fourth career shutout en route to the win. At the other net, Kelly DiGregorio had five saves.
The game also wrapped up non-conference play for the Jaspers, who finished with a dismal 1-3-1 record heading into Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games. Yet, despite the loss, Manhattan is finding itself stepping toward the right direction, Lawler said.
“Games like that prepare us well for the start of conference play,” he said.
On the upside, Lawler has created a winning tradition, and looks to do the same this season. Over his nine-year tenure, the coach was named MAAC coach of the year, and has guided the Jaspers to two conference championships over the last three seasons.
One of the key returners was Emma Saul, who scored four goals and provided nine assists for the Jaspers last year.
As MAAC play begins Sept. 14 against Fairfield, the Manhattan hopes to recover the same way they did last season.
Starting just 1-5-1 a year ago before MAAC play, the team finished with a conference record of 6-2-2, and an overall record of 10-7-3.
The Jaspers also look to dethrone Monmouth University this season, a team that has enjoyed two consecutive MAAC championships. During their one regular season matchup last season, the Jaspers fell short to Monmouth, 2-1, before the conference finals gave Monmouth a much-easier 5-1 victory.