MEDFORD, Mass. – Tufts University (15-1-3) edged Saint Joseph's College (19-0-2), 4-2 in penalty kicks, in an NCAA DIII Men's Soccer Tournament second round contest at Bello Field on Sunday afternoon.
After 90 minutes of regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime frames failed to produce a winner – or a goal – the two nationally ranked programs headed to penalty kicks to determine a victor. Since both teams entered today's game having allowed just one goal all season, it could have been predicted that the hard-fought contest would be decided in such a manner.
Zach Lane and Conor Coleman drilled the Jumbos' first two shots into the back of the net, while Conner Mieth made two saves on attempts by Saint Joseph's Brett Mattos and Rory Twomey. On Tufts next shot by Matt ZInner, Monk goalie Blake Mullen, who had been spectacular all game (10 saves), came up with another big stop diving to his left. That gave Saint Joseph's a little momentum as they were able to convert on their next two attempts by Noah Robinson and Mitchell Cyr. Travis Van Brewer also converted for Tufts to give them a 3-2 lead with two kicks remaining per team.
With a chance to end the game, Dexter Eichhorst stepped up for the Jumbos and delivered a soft shot to the right side of the net – Mullen guessed left – for the win.
It almost didn't come to penalty kicks, as there were a handful of chances throughout the entire game, especially for Tufts, who enter this year's tournament having won two of the last three national championships.
The first half started out evenly, with both teams controlling the ball for long periods. About half way through the Jumbos started to commit a couple extra players forward to create more pressure on the Monks defense and it resulted in a 7-2 shots advantage for the Jumbos in the first half.
The second half almost completely belonged to the Jumbos, with Gavin Tasker nearly striking on a pair of occasions. In the 68th minute he cut into the box from the left side as he received a cross from the right. He sent it spinning towards the top left corner, but Mullen was able to get a single hand on it to punch it away.
Then in the 73rd minute Tasker had another shot on goal from just a few yards out that Mullen was able to trap between his hand and the ground just before it crossed the line.
In overtime both teams almost scored. Saint Joseph's freshman Quinn Hewitt, who netted the game-winner against Mitchell College yesterday, sent a shot screaming for the top right corner of the net in the 92nd minute, but Mieth was able to get a hand on it at full stretch to tip it just above the crossbar. Almost immediately on the other end, Sterling Weatherbie took a shot that was destined to find the next if it wasn't for another great save by Mullen.
On the game Tufts outshot Saint Joseph's 24-4. They held the edge in corner kicks, 13-3.
The Jumbos will play next weekend in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. They will play the winner of Cabrini and John Hopkins. Game times and location have yet to be announced.
THANKS IN LARGE PART TO TUFTS UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.