November 10, 2008

The Middlebury College men's soccer team will make its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance on Saturday, November 15th when they host a regional on campus. The Panthers will take on Framingham State at 11:00, while Clark meets Norwich in the other match-up at 1:30. The regional final will take place on Sunday at 1:00.

Amherst won its first NESCAC men's soccer championship with a 2-0 victory over defending champion Middlebury in Vermont. The Jeffs pick up their first title game win in four appearances, as they improve to 12-3-2 overall, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers move to 2-2-1 in NESCAC title games and 13-2-2 overall.

Amherst came out strong with pressure on the Panthers for the first 30 minutes of the game. The Jeffs struck 15 minutes in as Jake Duker scored his 13th goal in 16 games as he one-timed a low hard crossing pass from Nick Lynch for the goal. The assist was his team-leading ninth of the season for Lynch.

Amherst struck again just 3:51 later as Jay Heo found the back of the net for his 11th of the year. Lynch made a centering pass to Duker, whose shot hit the post and rebounded right to Heo, as he gave his team a 2-0 lead early.

Middlebury came back for the final 15 minutes of the half with some pressure in the Amherst end, but could not get on the board. Lennard Kovacs kept it a 2-0 game for the Jeffs with one save, as well as a nice deflection of a junior Stephen Hart (Park City, Utah) shot over the crossbar.

After being outshot 5-2 in the first half, Middlebury returned the favor in the second session. The Panthers pressured the Jeffs on several occasions, including five corner kicks and one direct kick between the 68th and 71st minutes of the second half.

The Amherst defense held tough and though Middlebury threatened, the Panthers did not have any great chances to break up the shutout.

Kovacs ended the game with three saves for his fifth shutout of the season, while senior keeper Brian Bush (Madison, Wis.) made two saves for the Panthers.

Middlebury advanced to the NESCAC Championship game for the sixth time as the Panthers earned their second 1-0 win over Williams in as many weeks.

The Panthers had a good look in the early going as first-year player Tyler Macnee (Williston, Vt.) struck a ball from 30 yards out that sailed just wide of the post.

Middlebury broke through at 36:39 with the game's only goal on a corner kick. Senior Baer Fisher (Kenilworth, Ill.) served the ball to earn his team-leading sixth assist of the season, as sophomore Brooks Farrar (Medfield, Conn.) was able to get a head on the ball for his third tally of '08.

The Ephs has a chance late in the first half on a scramble, but senior Allen Bourdon (Lyme, N.H.) cleared the ball away from the goal for Middlebury.

Sam Empson just missed the goal in the 59th minute for the Ephs, as Fisher saw his shot from eight yards away saved by Andrew Graham just four minutes later.

The Panthers had two more great chances in the second half, the first by Hart in the 66th minute as he was denied by a diving Graham.

Farrar had a golden opportunity to net his second of the afternoon in the 77th minute, but missed an open net with Graham out of position.

Bush made one save in goal to earn his ninth shutout of the season, while Graham ended the day with five stops for Williams.
. Men's soccer record: 13-2-2
. Up next: 11/15 vs. Framingham St. - 11:00, Norwich vs. Clark - 1:30 (host NCAA Regional)
11/16 - NCAA Regional Final - 1:00