MEN’S SOCCER FALLS IN NESCAC SEMI’S
November 7, 2011
The Middlebury men's soccer team dropped a 2-1 game to #6 Amherst in a NESCAC semifinal road game on Saturday afternoon. The Jeffs improve to 13-1-2 overall and will take on Trinity in the title game on Sunday at noon. Middlebury finishes the season at 8-4-4.
Ben Norton netted the game-winner at 104:39 to lead Amherst to the victory on Hitchcock Field. Having met in every NESCAC Tournament since 2005, the top-seeded Jeffs recorded their third postseason win over the Panthers, avenging last year’s 2-0 semifinal loss.
Hoping to get off to a fast start, Middlebury won an early corner in the fourth minute. Sending the ball toward the backpost, senior Robbie Redmond (Morristown, N.J.) found senior Martin Drolet (Lachine, Que.), who headed the game’s first tally into the top right corner to put the Panthers on the board just 3:37 after the opening whistle.
Looking to respond, Amherst’s Alejandro Sucre dribbled the ball into the right side of the Middlebury box in the 25th minute before firing a low tracer just left of the Panther goal.
Outshooting Amherst 4-0 for the remainder of the frame, Middlebury looked to be in control before the waning seconds of the first half when Max Fikke snuck behind the Panther backline. Seeing the sophomore within reach of a long through-ball from the midfield, Middlebury senior goalkeeper Tim Cahill (S. Glastonbury, Conn.) came off his line, smothering the pass at the top of the 18 before the charging Fikke could cleanly foot it toward net, preserving the visitor’s slim 1-0 margin heading into the half.
Pushing forward to start the second, Amherst drew a couple of fouls within the frame’s first five minutes. Getting a head on a Sam Kaplan free-kick in the 49th minute, Federico Sucre flicked it toward the Middlebury goal, but Cahill got both hands on the try to hold the Panther lead.
Hoping to add to their tally, Middlebury senior Otis Pitney (Washington, D.C.) found space just outside Jeffs’ six-yard box in the 58th minute, ripping a hard shot on net, but Amherst keeper Lennard Kovacs punched the try over the bar to keep the home team within one.
Still looking for the equalizer with just over 21 minutes left in regulation, Milton Rico floated a nicely placed cross toward the backpost. Making a late run, Federico Sucre got a foot on the pass but sent the volley just wide left of the Middlebury net.
Continuing to apply pressure, the Jeffs won a throw-in from a dangerous spot with just over 10 minutes remaining. Tracking down the loose ball on Fikke’s long throw into the box, Federico Sucre hammered the game-tying score into the back of the Panther net at 10:00.
After Kovacs made a diving save on a senior Tyler Macnee (Williston, Vt.) try in the 85th minute, Jae Heo fired a shot that veered wide left at 86:55 as both teams headed into a first sudden-victory overtime session.
With just under two minutes remaining in the first overtime, Amherst pushed into the attacking third. Getting a foot on a loose ball on the right side, Alejandro Sucre lifted a shot just over the crossbar before the Jeffs won a corner moments later. Sending the service toward the backpost, Norton pushed it toward, but Cahill made the stop to send it into a second sudden-victory session.
Trying to put Amherst ahead, junior Spencer Noon generated a scoring opportunity within the first minute of action, heading a ball just high off a cross from the near side before the Jeffs won another corner with just over five minutes remaining. Taking to the air, Federico Sucre headed it toward the backpost past Cahill, prompting a defensive save at the goal line. Hustling to the rebound, Norton slotted it into the back of the net at 104:39 sealing the Amherst victory.
The Jeffs finished with a 14-11 shot advantage, with both teams winning four corners. Kovacs made four saves en route to his 12th win while Cahill made a pair of stops in the loss.
• Men’s soccer final record: 8-4-4