The Wildcats kicked off Homecoming & Family Weekend in style with a come from behind 5-3 victory over Rochester College on Friday night.
The atmosphere was electric at Dick's Sporting Goods Park as an energetic crowd made their presence known during Senior Day festivities prior to kick-off. The 'Cats recognized their eight graduating seniors including four who helped launch the program in 2013 prior to the opening whistle. The Mile High Honor Guard was on hand to post the colors for the National Anthem as the match had a special feeling to it.
Josh Costello (Gold Coast, Australia) forced the Warriors defense to come up with a stop in the 8th minute as the Wildcats looked dangerous early. At the other end of the field, RC's Fred Prest put the Warriors up 1-0 with a rocket shot from about 30 yards out in the 12th minute. Jordan Collier (Plainfield, Ill.) came up with two big saves in the 14th and 16th minutes as Prest continued to test the Wildcat's defense. Prest scored his second of the game on another laser attempt in the 16th minute, this time from about 25 yards out.
Johnson & Wales had a pair of back to back attempts in the 20th minute as RC's Malik Jones made the stop on attempts by Lucas Prolow (Evergreen, Colo.) and Ty Stephens (League City, Texas). The 'Cats continued to press through the first half but saw their attempts go high or wide. In the 35th minute, the Wildcats were called for a foul in the box sending Prest to the penalty spot. Prest converted the attempt to notch his third goal of the game. Christian Gallegos (Alvin, Texas) had another shot on target just before halftime, but RC's Jones made the save as the Warriors took a 3-0 lead into the break.
At halftime, Johnson & Wales recognized the men's soccer alumni in attendance and thanked them for their contributions to the program through it's first four years.
In the second half, Ben Flannery Bartlett (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) put a shot on target in the 49th minute but Jones made the stop. Mark Ramirez-Tapia (Longmont, Colo.) sent a shot in that the Warriors defense blocked back to a charging Jason Boyle (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) who sent it back in from 25 yards out putting JWU on the board in the 52nd minute. In the 64th minute, Prolow headed in a ball to add a second goal for JWU. Zach Peterschmidt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Ramirez-Tapia picked up assists on Prolow's goal.
The momentum of the match had changed following JWU's second goal as Flannery Bartlett tied the match 3-3 just a minute later, striking the ball from 25 yards out. The 66th minute saw Jones save an attempt by Flannery Bartlett and send his goal kick to the feet of Kyler Fowkes (Arvada, Colo.). Fowkes dribbled the ball into the box and shot it past Jones to give the Wildcats the 4-3 lead.
Collier made another save in the 74th minute as the Warriors looked for the equalizer. In the 81st minute, Gallegos scored his fourth goal of the season taking a cross into the box and slotting it past Jones. Freshmen Fowkes and Ramirez-Tapia each earned an assist on the senior's goal.
Johnson & Wales controlled much of the possession for the final eight minutes to hold off any late push by the Warriors on their way to taking the 5-3 conference victory.
Flannery Bartlett had three shots on goal for Johnson & Wales who put 13 shots on frame. Collier made three saves in the match for the Wildcats.
JWU will close out their regular season home schedule on Sunday when they host Morningside College at Aurora Public Schools Stadium at 12pm.