Men's Soccer Headed To NCAA Title Game

November 23, 2007

The Middlebury men's soccer team has advanced to the NCAA Championship game for the first time in school history, after a 0-0 tie with Loras in an NCAA semifinal game in Florida (Middlebury advanced 3-1 on penalty kicks). The Panthers will take on Trinity of Texas, a 1-0 winner over Messiah, in the title game on Saturday night at 6:00.

In the shootout, neither team scored in the first round, with Brian Bush making a diving save to his left. Andrew Germansky scored for the Panthers, as did Loras to make it 1-1 after two rounds. Stephen Hart converted, while Bush made a diving save to his right to leave Middlebury with a 2-1 advantage after three rounds. David LaRocca netted a low shot to the right, while Loras' shot skimmed off the left post as the Panthers came away with the 3-1 win.

Bush now has 12 shutouts on the season and has not allowed a goal in his last 513 minutes of action. The game improves on Middlebury's school record for shutouts in a season (16).

"We're extremely excited," Middlebury Head Coach David Saward said after the game. "I thought both teams were extremely committed to the cause. (Loras) deserves a lot of credit. It's such a fine line between joy and despair, and they shouldn't feel down."

Loras' season ends despite the team not losing a game during the season.

"It's not a loss," Head Coach Dan Rothert explained. "(A shootout) is not really the sport of soccer . it's unfortunate. Getting to the final four is a good accomplishment. We're young, and we plan on being back."

The scoreless first half was a defensive battle, as neither team was able to mount a significant attack. Middlebury received two good chances from striker Casey Ftorek midway through the half; the first came 20 minutes into the game on a shot wide left of the goal, and five minutes later he had a header bounce wide right off a serve into the box.

Loras fought back with two solid chances of their own towards the end of the period. Miguel Bonilla had an open shot from straight away from outside the penalty area, but the ball curved wide left. Mike Richter had an opportunity from the right side two minutes later, but he knocked it just wide left. Each team finished the half with two shots on goal, and physical play ended in 23 combined fouls combined between the teams.

The first significant attack of the second half came 10 minutes into the period on a corner kick by Loras; Matt Splittgerber found an opening in the box, and his header was saved by Bush. Nick Rizzo then had a chance two minutes later on a diving header off a cross from the left side, but he directed it straight to the keeper. With 16 minutes left in regulation, Middlebury was awarded a free kick from just outside the penalty area on the right side, but Brandon Jackson's strike was right at Loras goalkeeper Nate DuBois. With nearly an identical free kick, a header by Corey Moffat almost snuck inside the far post, but DuBois chased it down before it could.

The only chance for either team in the first overtime period came five minutes in when Jackson sent in a one-touch volley for Middlebury that sailed high and wide right. In the second overtime, Middlebury attempted four more shots but could not break through. Richter fired a shot off for Loras with three minutes left in the second overtime, but it sailed high from the right wing.

Middlebury finished the game was a 16-12 shot advantage, with DuBois saving six shots for Loras and Bush saving four for Middlebury.