NORTHFIELD, VT – Saint Joseph's (5-6-2, 3-3-1 GNAC) rallied to defeat Norwich University (7-4-1, 4-2-1 GNAC), 2-1, in double-overtime in a rematch of the 2011 GNAC Men's Soccer Championship game on Saturday afternoon. Junior forward Ross Suleski (Amesbury, Mass./St. Thomas Aquinas) netted the winner with 5:01 remaining in the second extra-play period to lift his team to an important conference victory.
Suleski headed home a cross from the left side sideline from junior midfielder Garrett Darnell (Gray, Maine) to beat Norwich sophomore goalkeeper Greg Payne (State College, Pa.) over his head to complete the Monks' comeback and spoil Norwich's hopes of avenging last year's GNAC Tournament final loss.
After a scoreless first half, Norwich struck first when Mike Ravenelle beat SJC freshman goalkeeper Scott Benner (Post Falls, Idaho) with a hard low shot from the top of the 18-yard box to give the Cadets a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.
NU clung to the one-goal lead for a little over 30 minutes before an own goal in the 81st minute broke the Cadets' impressive 460+ plus minute consecutive shutout streak, a goose-egg span that dated back to a 5-1 loss to Lasell on Sept. 19.
Jack LaFreniere (Alton, N.H.) took a throw-in that bounced off a Norwich player in the box and then deflected into the far corner of the net, just out of the reach of Payne to level the score.
Just 30 seconds after St. Joe's tied the game at one, things continued to unravel for Norwich as the Cadets lost a player for a red card and were left with 10 men to finish the game.
Neither side was able to score again through the remainder of regulation, or the first overtime session. However, Suleski became the golden goal hero almost exactly halfway through the second overtime period to lift the Monks to the crucial three points and the win.
St. Joe's outshot Norwich 22-18 and the Cadets held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks on the afternoon. Payne made six saves for Norwich and was saddled with his first loss since losing to Middlebury 2-0 on September 11th. Benner picked up the win for the Monks after turning aside seven shots.
With the triumph Saint Joseph's improves to 5-3-1 in the history of the series with Norwich University and has now defeated the Cadets, which entered today's action on a five-game unbeaten streak, in three straight meetings.
St. Joe's will play at Anna Maria College on Monday in a GNAC tilt scheduled begin at 1:30 PM. Norwich travels to Lyndon State College on Wednesday for a 3:30 PM non-conference match.
THANKS IN PART TO NORWICH UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE
Saint Joseph's College, founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, celebrates its Centennial year in 2012 with a theme of "Realize the Promise" – honoring our commitment to educating well-rounded graduates who combine career focus with classic liberal arts studies. A Private, Catholic, primarily residential, coeducational liberal arts institution, Saint Joseph's welcomes students of all ages and all faiths. The campus, located 18 miles northwest of Portland and just two hours from Boston, encompasses 350 acres along the shore of beautiful Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine. Enrollment ranges between 1,000 and 1,100 students annually. Saint Joseph's offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education, nursing and business fields in a value-centered environment.