Men's Soccer Wins NCAA Championship - Watch Archived Game

November 24, 2007

The Middlebury men's soccer team won its first NCAA Championship with a 1-0 win over Trinity of Texas in the title match in Florida. The game finished in a scoreless tie through two overtimes, but the Panthers won the shootout, 4-3. In the title game, the shootout winner is credited with a one-goal victory. The national championship is the 28th for the College since '94, in eight different sports. The Panthers end the year with a school record 18 wins (18-2-2) and 17 shutouts. Trinity suffers its first loss and ends the season with a 23-1 mark.

The scoreless first half was controlled by Trinity, as the Tigers out-shot Middlebury 13-6 in the opening frame. Trinity's leading scorer Patrick Floeck had the first major opportunity, sailing a one-touch volley over the crossbar after a long throw-in from the left corner. Floeck went airborne later in the half, trying to put a head on a cross from the left sideline, but he collided with Bush and had to leave the game. Floeck would return to the field in the second half.

The Panthers kept fighting, and a surge towards the end of the half resulted in the team's best chance; Andrew Banadda chased down a loose ball in the box with just over a minute before halftime, and his one-touch blast rocketed off the left post and back into play. Casey Ftorek was in position for the rebound, but his shot was off the mark to the right.

The second half was a defensive battle, as both teams found it difficult to find quality shots; Trinity attempted eight to Middlebury's six. Midway through the half, Trinity came close to breaking the tie on a corner kick from the right side; Kyle Altman was open in the middle of the box, and his header bounced wide left.

With 15 minutes left in regulation, Middlebury found an opening to Ftorek streaking down the left side, but his shot from outside the penalty area bounced wide right.

With the clock counting down from 10 seconds, Trinity's Joseph DeCosta received a cross from the right side and had a one-touch shot blocked by Bush, saving Middlebury from a last second defeat.

Trinity nearly won the game three minutes into the overtime period when Matt Beham sent in a cross from the right side, and Robert C'deBaca's header was saved on the far post by a Middlebury defender.

The Tigers finished the game with a shot advantage of 23-12. Bush stopped nine shots in goal for the Panthers, while Steinberg finished with two saves for Trinity.

In the shootout, Ftorek scored with a shot to the bottom left to tie it at one. Bush made a diving save in the second round before Andrew Germansky gave Middlebury a 2-1 lead. Trinity scored to start off the third round before Stephen Hart's shot was saved to tie it at two. Following a Tiger conversion, David LaRocca scored to knot it a three goals apiece. Trinity's fourth shooter hit the crossbar before Brandon Jackson scored to give the Panthers the national title.

"The foundation of a good team is defense," Middlebury Head Coach David Saward explained. "It's an incredible honor for us to do this, especially with the four teams that were here."

The Middlebury defense did not allow a goal through the entire tournament, and that mindset helped prepare them for the high-powered Trinity attack. Bush ended the season with a 623 minute scoreless streak.

"It feels great; it's a credit to our defense," Bush remarked. "To even play to a tie against a team like Trinity is great. They're a phenomenal team."

"I felt that we played good enough soccer to create enough chances to win in the first half, and again in the second half and overtime," Trinity Head Coach Paul McGinlay explained. "When it comes to penalty kicks, there's no more coaching."

"Over 400 teams started the year," McGinlay continued, "and on November 24 there were two left. We came as close as you can possible come to having the perfect season."

Andrew Germansky, Corey Moffat and Banadda were named to the NCAA All-Tournament, while Bush earned Tournament M.V.P. honors.

Photos courtesy Chris Livingston, NCAA Photo.