It’s been a historic season for the Springfield College men’s soccer team, but all seasons are defined by one measure: success. Appearing in the NEWMAC tournament was an expectation for this unit, and winning it was another one. On a cool, rainy Saturday afternoon the Pride fought hard, but ultimately fell short.
The game was so well contested that it took two overtime periods and penalty kicks to determine a winner. Both teams played their hearts out, but at the end of the game, only one can walk away a winner.
Rain drizzled down at the start of the game as both sides ran onto the field with a lot of energy. That energy did not translate into much offense either way. Through the opening 15 minutes the teams combined for only one shot on goal.
The game was being played in the middle of the field. It was not so much the team’s feeling each other out, it was more of two high level defenses going at it.
Springfield of course had allowed only seven goals all season coming in and WPI was holding teams to only 0.71 goals per game on the year. By the time the clock had ticked down to 17 minutes remaining in the half each side had mustered only one shot on goal.
Late in the half Springfield had a corner kick that looked to be a score. The officials ruled it a save and the game continued, much to the dismay of the home crowd. The Pride had another corner right after but could not capitalize.
Halftime arrived and no goals had been scored. The Pride had 15 shots, only two of which were on goal and WPI recorded only one on goal. Dating back to the regular season the teams to that point played 155 minutes against one another with no goals being scored for either side.
The second half began with a bit more excitement. Springfield generated better offense and had a cross for Keon Haji that was saved at the absolute last second by WPI’s Connor Hoeckele. The intensity continued to rise with WPI being assessed a yellow card and its defense making some great saves.
Springfield had double the shots on goal in the first eight minutes of the second half than what they did in the first half. Still, they could not translate their increased effort into an actual goal.
Meanwhile, WPI remained stagnant. By the time the clock hit the 68 minute they had still only recorded two shots on goal. They could not get through, or behind, the Springfield defense.
After the initial flurry by Springfield the game returned to a middle of the field, a defensive battle. The Pride had only one shot on goal over the final 37 minutes, and WPI remained stuck at two. Regulation ended and still it remained 0-0.
200 minutes of play between the two teams, and still no goals.
In the first overtime an early corner came up empty for Springfield. WPI also threatened with a cross for a header, but it missed wide right. Ten more minutes passed and once again, no goals were scored.
By the time second overtime began Brock-Affleck Field was as loud as it’s been all season. Fans from both sides were anxious for a goal and they let it be known. Still, no goals resulted and a NEWMAC title came down to penalty kicks.
Pride head coach Steffen Siebert and the Pride made a bold decision for penalty kicks, they put in freshman goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin. His first opponent was WPI’s leading goal scorer Brendan Nemes. Nemes converted to give WPI a 1-0 advantage. Douglas Enga responded quickly for the Pride to knot things at one.
The next two kickers for each side were turned away. Dorchin and WPI’s Connor Hoeckele each made some tremendous saves. Dorchin had a diving stop and Hoeckele stopped one by the edge of his fingertips.
Following that, Pavolas Christidis stepped up for WPI and put one home giving the Engineers a two to one advantage. Cam Powell was then rebuffed by Hoeckele, a third straight clutch save from the Senior captain.
Ryan Stokes then stepped up for WPI and put home the game winner making the Engineers the 2017 NEWMAC Champions.
Not all hope is lost for Springfield. The Pride were awarded an at-large bid in the Division III NCAA tournament. The team will play Endicott at a date that is to be determined.