November 15, 2010

            Junior Tyler Macnee (Williston, Vt.) scored with 55 seconds remaining to lift Middlebury to a 2-1 victory over William Paterson in an NCAA Regional Final game in Vermont. The Panthers advance to next weekend's sectional, where they will take on Babson at Bowdoin on Saturday, November 20th. The host school will meet Amherst in the other sectional match-up. Middlebury improves to 15-3-1 with the win, while William Paterson ends its season with a 14-4-3 mark.

William Paterson had a slight advantage in the first half, holding a 5-1 lead in shots. Middlebury had some opportunities, but they were unable to muster up many shots in the frame.

            The Pioneers had a couple of nice chances in the first 13 minutes, but Panther junior goalkeeper Tim Cahill (S. Glastonbury, Conn.) kept them off the board. The first came at 8:08, when Ryan Miller's shot deflected off a Middlebury defender and was saved before being cleared away. Mike Lowe broke in all alone at 13:30, with Cahill coming out to making a sliding save to keep the game scoreless.

            Three minutes later, Middlebury had a chance on a corner kick, but William Paterson keeper Zach Collins made a save through traffic on junior Alex Colucci (Westfield, N.J.).

            With 3:43 left in the first half, the Pioneers took a 1-0 lead on the third of the season from Miller. Chris Belan crossed the ball from the left side, with Cahill briefly deflecting it before Miller was there to finish.

            Middlebury tied the game in the second half, with sophomore Brett Brazier (Okemos, Mich.) netting his third of the year at the 53:37 mark. Senior Jake Edwards (Easton, Conn.) made a quick crossing pass from the right side, with Brazier there to redirect it into the back of the net to knot the game at 1-1.

            The Panthers had an advantage in play for the next 20 minutes, before William Paterson came back strong. Kene Eze looked to put them back on top at 68:27 driving in from the right side. Cahill came out to challenge and was forced to dive back to his right to make a save. Matt Nigro's shot went just high in the 75th minute after beating a defender, before the Panthers began to challenge with a few opportunities of their own.

            The game-winner came with less than a minute to play, when Brazier drove to the net from the right goal line. He quickly made a firm centering pass to Macnee from 15 yards away, with the junior burying the shot for his team-leading sixth of the season.

            William Paterson held an 11-7 shots advantage in the game, while Middlebury led 9-2 in corner kicks. Cahill finished with five saves to earn the win, while Collins made three stops for the Pioneers.

Middlebury advanced to the regional final with a 2-1 victory over Daniel Webster on Saturday. Daniel Webster put Middlebury on its heels early, as Alex Jackson netted his team-leading 16th goal of the season. Jackson let a blast go from 40 yards out, that continued to sail up and over the head of Cahill for the 1-0 lead.

The Eagles had a chance to make it a 2-0 game at 15:37, but Spencer Bernard's header went just over the crossbar after a feed from Nick Klesh.

            Middlebury threatened when Macnee let a shot go that sailed just over the crossbar after taking a feed from Colucci at the 14:10 mark. Senior Carson Cornbrooks (Williston, Vt.) was looking to tie the game in the 36th minute, but his shot was denied by a diving save from Daniel Webster keeper Joe Keene. Sophomore Jon Portman (Fair Haven, N.J.) had a great look with 1:10 to go in the half, but his shot went just wide.

Portman had another chance just 20 seconds later, taking advantage with his second goal of the season. The midfielder ripped a shot that deflected off an Eagle defender and past a diving Keene to tie the game at 1-1 with just 50 seconds left in the half.

Cornbrooks just missed a chance in the 60th minute as his header and follow up were denied after a cross from Edwards. Cornbrooks saw a shot go just over the frame from 25 yards out at 66:34, while senior Harrison Watkins' (San Francisco, Calif.) header just missed after service from Edwards at 71:27.

Portman struck for the game-winner at 75:54, earning his second of the game and third of the season. The sophomore placed a perfect shot into the upper left corner of the net, letting it go from 23 yards away.

Middlebury ended the game with a 20-4 shots advantage, taking 14 corner kicks while holding the Eagles without one. Cahill earned the win in goal for the Panthers, while Keene finished with seven stops for the Eagles.
• Men's soccer record: 15-3-1
Up next: 11/20 vs. Babson @ Bowdoin - 1:30 (NCAA Sectional) - if win, 9/21 @ 1:00