Nov. 14, 2010

Courtesy of Franklin Pierce Athletics

RINDGE, N.H. - The No. 1-nationally ranked Franklin Pierce University men's soccer team played Southern New Hampshire to a 1-1 draw Saturday night in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Division II Tournament, but advanced to the national quarterfinals via penalty kicks (4-1) at Sodexo Field in Rindge. The Ravens moved to 17-1-2 and ran their unbeaten streak to 17-consecutive matches (15-0-2). It also marks the program's first trip the NCAA quarterfinals since 2007.

After the teams played to an even score following 110:00 of action, both sides picked their five representatives to conduct the 10-man shootout. SNHU won the coin toss, forcing Franklin Pierce to shoot first, but that was the only thing that went wrong for the Ravens in the PKs.

Junior midfielder Paul Latif (Newcastle, England) went first and slammed home his attempt, while junior goalkeeper Vinny Papageorgiou (Wilmington, Mass.) capped the first round with a diving save off a shot from SNHU back Jon Brockway.

Junior forward Victor Goncalves (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), who scored Franklin Pierce's lone regulation goal, started off the second round with a strike to the upper-right corner of the goal, but SNHU was able to stay within reach as it capped the frame with a goal from Danny Hernandez.

Junior forward Tom Reilly (Wallasey, England) kept the scoring streak alive in the third round with a successful PK attempt, and Papageorgiou did another outstanding job by slamming the door shut on an attempt by Michael Adam.

With Franklin Pierce leading 3-1 heading into the fourth round of PKs, junior midfielder Diego Tabares (Seekonk, Mass.) had a chance to seal the win for the Ravens, and he did just that with a strike that beat the SNHU goalkeeper high to the upper portion of the goal. The entire Ravens' team mobbed the field chasing down Tabares, who was busy celebrating the winning penalty kick.

Southern New Hampshire out-shot Franklin Pierce by a count of 13-12, including putting seven shots on goal compared to the Ravens' three. However, Papageorgiou came up with six big saves to keep his team in the contest. Those six stops were in addition to his outstanding efforts in the shootout.

After a scoreless opening 45 minutes which saw both teams only record four shots, things opened up early in the second half. The Ravens took a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute when Goncalves took a crossing pass from graduate back Jeff Hay (Dudley, Mass.) in front of the net and struck a blast to the lower-right corner of the goal. For Goncalves, it was his sixth goal of the season, which moved him into a tie for second place on the squad in that category. Hay, who leads the team with seven tallies, earned an assist on the play.

The goal energized both teams as they picked up the offensive intensity. The Penmen were able to capitalize in the 64th minute when Hernandez tracked down his own headed pass and slipped a shot into the net to tie the match at 1-1.

Both teams continued to fire shots in the closing minutes and Franklin Pierce just missed scoring the game-winner as graduate forward Shaun Taylor (Isle of White, England) headed an attempt with just two seconds remaining in regulation, but placed it too high above the crossbar.

The outcome also kept Franklin Pierce unbeaten at home this season as the Ravens are 11-0-2 in the friendly-confines of Sodexo Field. The facility hosted a large crowd of 371 fans during Saturday evening, which helped provide a home-field advantage for the Ravens.

With the win, Franklin Pierce (the top-seed in Super Region I) will host the national quarterfinals in Rindge next weekend. Date, time and opponent are still to be determined. Franklin Pierce will face the winner of the Dowling-Southern Connecticut State match, which will be contested Sunday afternoon in Brookhaven, N.Y. Dowling is the second-seed in Super Region I, while SCSU is the third-seed. Southern New Hampshire was the fourth-seed in Super Region I and concluded its campaign with a 12-3-5 record.