Two overtimes were not enough to decide a victor Tuesday night at Brock-Affleck Stadium.
Springfield College and The Blazers of Elms College squared off in the Pride’s third match of the season, ending in Springfield’s second consecutive tie and landing them (1-0-2) overall.
Coming off a scoreless match against Nichols on Saturday, the maroon and white took to the field hungry and eager. Luke Alvaro, a new face on the team this year who arrived from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, proved himself as a prominent offensive and defensive factor for the Pride, as he created opportunities early and often in the match.
“Luke is a great player,” senior defenseman, Ryan Malone said. “He brings a lot of speed and aggression for us in the offensive third, and it’s just a bonus that he is a great finisher.”
Malone, a product of Chicopee, Mass. (the place the Blazers call home), created an opportunity just over twelve minutes into the first half when he was able to rush the net, draw defenders, and then locate captain Drew Sommers, providing him with a clean feed and open look which he converted with ease, giving Springfield the early 1-0 advantage.
Minutes later, junior midfielder Lorenzo Rolocut responded for Elms when he was able to gain control of the ball in front of a congested Springfield net and chip it in, enough to beat junior goalkeeper Billy Schmid and tie the match at a goal a piece.
With five minutes remaining in the half, it looked as though Elms was going to take the lead on a rocket shot just outside the blue line from freshman midfielder Mike Dipasquale. Schmid was able to get his eyes on the ball early and react with a leaping save knocking the ball just over the crossbar with an open palm. Schmid, however, only went the duration of the first half before being replaced by sophomore Zach Richard in goal.
The second half opened with aggressive offense from both sides. Following a near Pride header on a feed to freshman defender Cam Powell from senior Joe LaBella that sailed just over the crossbar, sophomore forward Taylor Gilfoy caught up to a pass from Alvaro and displayed some fancy footwork beating two Blazer defenders before eluding Goalkeeper Christian Kostka to put the Pride up 2-1.
The maroon and white stayed tight in close on defense, eliminating all Blazer possession as they stormed the box almost every possesion.
With 15 minutes remaining in regulation, Sommer gave the Pride a chance for another goal when he chipped the ball up to a lonely Alvaro ,who had a one-on-one opportunity with the defending goal keeper.
Unfortunately, he was unable to keep his footing and ultimately turned it over.
“We like to get the ball up the field quickly,” Alvaro said. “I think that we did what we could in order to get scoring chances.”
Elms soon made Springfield pay for their inability to convert when Dipasquale was able to connect on a feed from fellow Blazer freshman Jeff Danek, and blast the ball past Richard, shaking the back of the net and knotting the match at two with just over six minutes remaining in the second half.
Malone exerted a great personal effort to keep the game from overtime as he sparked many opportunities, such as a strong boot from distance that barely grazed over the crossbar with three minutes remaining.
The senior came up big on the defensive end as well; with time ticking down, he kicked a rebounded ball out of bounds, which had been lingering deep in the Springfield box.
The Pride defense continued to stay tight and disciplined while simultaneously forcing challengers away from the middle. Offensive opportunity was scarce for both teams, however, as both sides subbed defensively, avoiding giving up the golden goal.
With thirty seconds remaining in the second and final overtime, Elms had a chance to take the victory with a corner kick.
Scrambling to get in position with seconds remaining, Dipasquale let the corner kick fly into the box, where it found space and looked promising for the Blazers, until Pride junior forward Brian Betz was able to track the ball down just shy of the goal line and send it to the sideline as time expired.
Following the game, Malone, who was able to tally an assist on the match, recapped the night’s play.
“Everything tonight was working for us offensively because we were getting multiple chances throughout the match,” Malone said. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net in the dying moments.”
The Men’s Soccer team will look to improve on thier untarnshed record when they travel to Westfield State this Saturday, Sept. 13.
Zach Tolman can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org