Photo by David Peterlin/Peterlin Photography
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After playing to a scoreless double-overtime tie, the No. 6 Amherst College men's soccer team punched its ticket to the program's first-ever NCAA Division III Championship title match following a sensational 4-3 victory in penalty kicks in Friday evening's NCAA Final Four contest at the Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Mo.
Amherst (17-1-2) advances to its first-ever final and will play Loras College (18-4-1) which handed Calvin College (24-1-1) its first loss of the season in Friday evening's other semifinal. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. eastern time at the Swope Soccer Village. SUNY Oneonta concludes its 2015 campaign, 19-3-2 overall.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After playing to a scoreless tie over 90 minutes of regulation, the sides played a pair of scoreless overtime periods with neither team able to net the game-winner.
- In the penalty kick shootout, SUNY Oneonta took the first spot kick and the Red Dragons missed their first two opportunities as Dylan Williams' attempt was stopped by Amherst goalkeeper Thomas Bull '16 who dove to his left to turn away the shot, while Hans Purtell's effort went wide. The Purple & White made their first three attempts as Nico Pascual-Leone '16, Bull, and Greg Singer '16 each buried their tries.
- After Cory Santangelo made his kick, Amherst held a 3-1 advantage after three rounds. In the fourth round, Jake Sutherland netted his kick, while Jackson Lehnhart '17 missed his to make it 3-2 in favor of the Purple & White. In the fifth round, Alex Winiarski converted a third consecutive penalty kick for the Red Dragons to momentarily even the score at 3-3. Amherst's Milton Rico '16 then delivered beautiful spot kick into the back of the net to secure the Purple & White's spot in the national title contest.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- In a back-and-forth start to the contest, SUNY Oneonta had the first early drive on net in the eighth minute as Williams fired a shot that was blocked by the Amherst defensive line, before Sutherland curled a shot from just outside the 18-yard box that sailed over the crossbar.
- After a terrific defensive stop by Cameron Bean '17 on Sutherland just a minute later, Christopher Martin '17 sent a beautiful cross-field pass to Pascual-Leone who tried a long-range shot that went wide of target.
- In the 24th minute, Lehnhart sent a corner kick into the box but Bryce Ciambella's '17 ensuing shot was blocked. Seconds later Singer directed a threatening header on goal, but SUNY Oneonta goalkeeper Vincent Pellegrino made a superb diving save to his left to keep the game knotted at 0-0 at the 24:47 mark.
- The Red Dragons had an opportunity with 10 minutes remaining in the first stanza through Dillon Johnson but his attempt was stopped by the Amherst defense.
- With just over one minute remaining in the first 45 minutes, Bull sent a long free kick into the box that Pascual-Leone headed on net, but Pellegrino was able to corral the attempt.
- Amherst held a 5-3 advantage in shots and a 2-0 edge in shots on goal in the first frame.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- Early in the second period, Lehnhart sent a sensational free kick into the box and Luke Nguyen '19 was in perfect position and headed the ball towards frame, but the effort rose just inches high at the 46:43 mark.
- With 35 minutes left to play in regulation, Purtell sent an accurate cross into the box to find a teammate, but a tremendous block by Rohan Sood '17 kept the ball out of harm's way.
- At the 58:41 mark, the Red Dragons continued to keep pressure on the Purple & White goal, as Santangelo delivered another cross across the box to Williams who headed the ball high over the goal.
- After a shot on goal by Sood, Martin had a chance to score when a loose ball came to him in the box with the keeper out of position. A sliding stop by Alejandro Ruiz kept the game scoreless in the 61st minute.
- Less than a minute later, Nguyen sent a corner service into the box that Pascual-Leone tried to back heel into the net but the flick went over the crossbar.
- In the 71st minute, Purtell put a shot on target – the first of the game for SUNY Oneonta – but Bull was able to scoop up the scuffed shot. Minutes later, Williams sent in a deep free kick but Bull was once again able to pick off the cross attempt.
- At the 75:27 mark, Alex Wilson drilled a shot from just outside the box that was tipped at full extension by Bull and pushed just inches over the bar. Three minutes later, Ruiz had a shot that curled wide of the post.
- The Red Dragons kept possession in the Amherst defensive third of the field and in the 83rd minute, Johnson drove a shot high from just inside the 18-yard box.
- With less than a minute to play in regulation, Amherst had a pair of corner kicks but could not create a scoring chance sending the game to overtime.
- After 90 minutes of play, Amherst held an 11-9 edge in shots, and a 4-1 advantage in shots on target. The Purple & White also held a slim 4-3 lead in corner kicks.
- In the first overtime, Greg Silvestro headed a corner service from Williams that was alertly cleared off the line by Bean at the 92:14 mark.
- Amherst turned the tide later in the period as Pascual-Leone sent a beautiful ball into the box in front of goal, but no one could get their foot to it. Seconds later Singer tried an acrobatic shot that went high.
- At the other end of the pitch, Santangelo had a breakaway into the box but Bull made a sensational stop, and Sutherland's follow up shot drifted past the post in the 98th minute.
- In the 103rd minute, Ciambella sent a shot wide of the goal, and Pascual-Leone then delivered a through ball to Martin who couldn't make a play on target.
- Pascual-Leone then tried an overhead kick in the box but Pellegrino was able to catch the shot at the 105:28 mark.
- SUNY Oneonta was awarded a corner kick in the 110th minute but could get nothing out of it as the game went to penalty kicks.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Amherst now stands at 24-10-10 in NCAA postseason action.
- Bull has now recorded his 16th clean sheet of the season, and continues to build on his NCAA Division III men's soccer career shutout record with 50.
- The draw snapped a 10-game winning streak for SUNY Oneonta.