Men's Soccer Falls In NESCAC Title Game On PK's

November 5, 2006

The Middlebury men's soccer team battled to a 0-0 tie at Williams in NESCAC Championship game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Ephs won the title with a 3-2 edge in penalty kicks. Williams (13-1-1), with its only two blemishes coming at the hands of Middlebury, earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers (11-5-1) will hope for an at-large bid when the selections are announced late Sunday night or Monday morning.

The closest either team got to scoring in the first half was a shot on a wide-open net that Pat Huffer missed high. Zach Toth once again was a huge presence in the goal for Middlebury today, making six saves. Toth and the Middlebury defense officially earn a shutout, despite falling in penalty kicks.

As the minutes ticked away, overtime became a near-certainty. However, a scrum in front of the Middlebury goal with under a minute to play in regulation resulted in a Williams shot that struck the crossbar, coming just inches from going into the goal. Both teams maintained a fairly conservative style in OT in anticipation of the ensuing penalty kicks. After the 20 minutes of scoreless play, the two goalkeepers, Jeff Castiglione of Williams and Zach Toth of Middlebury, walked to the east goal to await their shots.

First to shoot was John Sales of Middlebury, who sent a perfect shot just inside the right post to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage. Patrick Huffer of Williams tied things up when he sent a shot left as Toth dove right.

Vandy Shanholt of Middlebury and John Hillman of Williams exchanged successful PKs. After this, Middlebury's Winston Rains sent a blistering shot that ricocheted off the right post and away from the goal. However, Williams was unable to capitalize on this opportunity, as Zach Toth saved Sam Empson's ensuing shot.

Castiglione then made a spectacular save on a David Lee shot. Brett Olsen of Williams put the Panthers in a hole when he nailed his shot to the bottom left corner for the 3-2 lead.

Middlebury's Billy Brennan would need to convert to keep hopes alive, but Castiglione made a diving save to give the Ephs the title.

Williams maintained a significant 22-6 margin on shots. The Panthers clearly missed Casey Ftorek on offense, who had to sit out today's match after earning a red card late in the match Saturday against Amherst. Toth ended the game with six saves for his sixth shutout of the season.