By Danny Priest
SPRINGFIELD – Saturday afternoon it rained, it poured, the wind howled; but the Springfield College men’s soccer team still had a job to do as they played host to the Wheaton College Lyons for their season finale.
The Pride (12-4-1, 5-1-1) entered the day at second place in the NEWMAC conference with Babson ahead of them and holding the one seed as well as a head to head tiebreaker, and WPI behind them in third place.
Wheaton (9-9, 3-4) came into the game in fourth place in the conference and on a water logged Brock-Affleck Field, the Pride played their third consecutive overtime game and this time it resulted in a 2-1 come-from-behind win.
It looked like all hope was lost with the Pride down 1-0 for nearly the entire second half, but with 1:06 left to go in the game the Pride finally got their break. Ian Zacharewicz kicked home a goal (his third of the season) off an assist from Christian Schneider and Justin Breedlove.
The goal tied the game at one, after Wheaton had struck first when JD Souza scored an unassisted goal that deflected off the post and into the net just 2:12 into the second half of play.
Then late in the first overtime, the Pride made magic again. Keon Haji kicked a beautiful pass up to Andrew Ma and Ma buried it (his fourth goal of the season) to deliver a clutch come-from-behind win for the Pride with 2:04 to go in the extra period.
As if the win was not enough reason for celebration, it was also Senior Day for the Pride. The six members of the 2019 class on the team were honored before the game.
Stewart Frank, Christian Schneider, Brad Deckel, Ian Zacharewicz, Keon Haji and Xavi Arroyo were all recognized. Together, the six seniors have won 60 games over their four years.
In other NEWMAC news, WPI defeated Clark on Saturday to push their conference record to 4-0-3. Springfield needed a win to stay ahead of the Engineers in the conference and they got it.
Now, the Pride are guaranteed no lower than the second seed in the NEWMAC Tournament. Babson plays Coast Guard tomorrow, and should they lose the Pride could gain the number one seed.
The NEWMAC Quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday, October 30th at a time to be determined later. It is most likely that Springfield will be a two-seed and host three-seed WPI. Should Babson lose, Springfield will move all the way up to the first seed.
Regardless of the seeding, the Pride still had a successful first season under head coach Tommy Crabill. The 11 wins are impressive and Springfield showed that they can compete with any team in the NEWMAC Tournament.
The Pride will now shift their focus to the tournament and try to make a deep run in Crabill’s inaugural season.
Featured photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics