The Springfield College men’s soccer team suffered a 2-1 double overtime loss in a NEWMAC contest against the United States Coast Guard Academy. Coast Guard traveled from New London, Conn. to Brock-Affleck Field on Saturday for a 12 p.m. start time. The game concluded the 2013 regular season for both teams.
With the loss, the Pride fell to 13-5-0 on the year and 3-4-0 in NEWMAC play. The Coast Guard Bears improved to 8-7-3 and 3-3-1 in NEWMAC contests with the win.
The biggest goal of the day came during the second overtime period as Coast Guard senior Kyle Grell used his head to guide the ball into the right corner of the Springfield College goal. The Islip Terrace, N.Y. native headed it past goalkeeper Billy Schmid with just 1:53 (109th minute) left in the game. The assist came from West Harwich, Mass. native John Rendon.
The Pride had already clinched a spot in the NEWMAC Tournament and was just playing for seeding at this point. The Bears however, were fighting to keep their season alive. A loss or tie would’ve ended their season, which made Grell’s clutch goal imperative.
“We just kept fighting the whole game,” Grell said. “We never gave up. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
The other goal for the Bears was scored in the 64th minute of play. Senior forward Robert Copeland stole the ball from Springfield College defender John Mankus. Copeland then had a one-on-one battle with Schmid. Copeland came out victorious, as he was able to tap the ball past the aggressive goalkeeper into the left side of the net.
Springfield College tied it up in the 75th minute with a goal off the foot of senior captain Scott Saucier. Saucier was able to knot the game up on a beautiful goal. He dribbled past several defenders, reared back and struck it above the outstretched hands of Coast Guard junior goalkeeper Richie Burns.
Despite this one blunder, Burns had an incredible day. Out of the 11 Springfield shots on goal, Burns saved 10. Toward the end of the second half and beginning of the first overtime, Springfield College’s Ryan Malone had numerous shots on goal, but came out empty thanks in large part to the stellar goaltending by Burns.
“All the credit should go to our defense,” Burns said humbly. “The stuff they let through is the stuff I’m supposed to save. I’m doing my job back there, [and] they’re doing theirs. The whole defense played pretty well.”
Coast Guard had eight shots on goal, and Schmid saved six.
Malone (Chicopee, Mass.) was one of eight seniors to be honored during Senior Day festivities. The other seven were forward Michael Fowler (Maynard, Mass.); midfielders Danny Amato (Newington, Conn.), Scott Morneault (Bristol, Conn.), Scott Saucier (Derry, N.H.) and Drew Vanasse (Concord, Mass.); and defenders Collin Smith (Byfield, Mass.) and John Mankus (Vernon, Conn.).
This senior squad accomplished a lot here at Springfield College, including going to the NEWMAC Championship two years in a row during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. It was the first time a Springfield College men’s soccer team has accomplished the feat since 1998 and 1999. They were truly a special group that accomplished so much.
Saucier emotionally stated: “There’s no way to describe it. It’s just awesome. I love these guys, I love the team, I love the coaching staff, [and] I love the atmosphere. There’s no single word to describe it.”
The men’s journey won’t end here, though. This Wednesday the journey continues as they look for revenge against Coast Guard. They play the Bears in the first round of the NEWMAC Tournament at 7 p.m. If they win, subsequent games would be on Saturday (Nov. 9) and Sunday (Nov. 10).