NEAC Tournament First Round: Men's Soccer Falls to Penn St.-Harrisburg In Shootout
MARCY, N.Y. – The SUNYIT Men's Soccer Team (9-7-2, 6-3-1 NEAC) fell to Penn St.-Harrisburg (10-7-2, 6-3-1 NEAC) Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the NEAC Championship Tournament. With the score tied at 0-0 after two overtimes, the Nittany Lions upended the Wildcats at their home field in a penalty-kick shootout, 4-2.
It was a defensive battle from the start, as neither of the two physical teams looked willing to cede an inch of turf to their opponent.
Somehow the visitors managed to get off 10 shots in the first half, but neither team was able to get the kind of looks they wanted, with one exception. In the 41st minute SUNYIT had their best try of the half, as a great pass by senior Mario Gomez (Rome, N.Y. / RFA) led to an advantage down the right side by Josh Kimber (Chittenango, N.Y. / Chittenango). Kimber then flipped a pass to Diego Montaleza (New York, N.Y. / MLK), who found himself one-on-one with the Nittany Lion keeper, Charles Hyson. Hyson made a great play to steal the dribble from Montaleza just before the SUNYIT middie could get off a shot. It wouldn't be the keeper's last game-saving play.
As the two teams continued to play to a stalemate in the second half, there seemed to be a sense even before the first overtime that the game was destined for a shootout. Over two hours after the game's start time, the moment arrived.
Harrisburg senior Alex Belanger led off with a score for the Nittany Lions. Senior Tyler Fleming (Groton, N.Y. / Tompkins Cortland CC) then evened things up at 1-1 for the Wildcats. After Tommy Miller converted the next try for the Lions, things began to deviate from the script due to the play of Hyson. On Matt Wilday's (Broadalbin, N.Y. / Galway) attempt, Hyson guessed perfectly, diving low and to his right to stop Wilday's goal. The play essentially sealed things for the Lions, as SUNYIT would fail to convert a few shots later, leaving Harrisburg to celebrate.
The Wildcats end their season at 9-7-2, while the Nittany Lions will advance to face host team Penn St.-Abington in this weekend's NEAC Semifinals.