Nov. 20, 2010

 

Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics

The Middlebury mens soccer team has advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third time in four years after a 1-0 win over Babson at Bowdoin. The Panthers (16-3-1) will take on Bowdoin, who advanced on penalty kicks past Amherst, in a Section Final on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Babson ends its season with a 16-4-2 mark. The 16 wins this season are second only to the 18 earned by the 07 NCAA Championship team.

Both teams had numerous scoring chances in an evenly-played first half, beginning when Babson sophomore Josh Danesh (Brookline, Mass.) sent a cross from the left side that was intercepted by Panthers junior keeper Tim Cahill (South Glastonbury, Conn.) just before it reached streaking junior Billy Nickerson (Middleton, Mass.) in the 11th minute.

The Beavers had another strong chance when junior Jimmy Stento (Needham, Mass.) beat a defender on the right wing and sent a cross through the box in the 25th minute, but the ball sailed just over the head of sophomore forward Eric Anderson (Scituate, Mass.) in front and junior captain Max Walkers (Newton, Mass.) follow-up bid from the left side sailed well over the net.

Middlebury nearly broke through at 34:25, when sophomore Jon Portman (Fair Haven, N.J.) found space at the top of the box and ripped a shot toward the left corner. However, the ball ricocheted off the left post and back through the box before it was cleared away by the Babson defense.

Portman had another great opportunity in the closing minutes of the first, but his shot from the left side was stopped by Crowley and the rebound was cleared off the goal line by first-year back Salvatore Percival (Andover, Mass.). The Panthers would have a pair of corner kicks in the final 30 seconds of the period, but the Beavers successfully denied both as the two teams entered halftime tied at 0-0.

The second half once again saw both teams enjoy excellent scoring chances, with Babsons Walker missing just above the cross bar off a failed clear at 60:48 and Middlebury senior Taylor Wilkins South Burlington, Vt.) doing the same with a header off a corner kick at the 68-minute mark. Crowley then made a spectacular diving save to his left on a rocket off the foot of Panthers junior Tyler Macnee (Williston, Vt.) at 73:40, as the contest remained scoreless.

Middlebury finally snapped the deadlock with just under 11 minutes remaining in regulation, beginning when Macnee intercepted a Babson pass near midfield. The junior striker then slid a perfect through-ball to a streaking junior Otis Pitney (Washington, D.C.), who broke in alone on Crowley and tucked a shot into the lower right corner for the games first goal at 79:03. It was Pitneys sixth goal of the season, while the assist was Macnees third.

Babson threatend to tie the game when junior Ryan Obolewicz (Bow, N.H.) got a lunging foot on a lead pass from Stento near the right post with six minutes remaining, but Cahill made an easy save. The Beavers then had one final attempt with a free kick from midfield with 30 seconds remaining, but the Panthers keeper made a clean catch on the ensuing service to clinch the 1-0 Middlebury victory.

Middlebury controlled a majority of play, owning a 17-5 advantage in shots on the day. Cahill finished with one save in goal, while Crowley made six stops for the Beavers.