Nov. 13, 2009

Courtesy of Slippery Rock Athletics

Jeremy Deighton scored a hat trick with three headers, including the game-winner with 1:32 left in the second overtime, and Greg Blum made 14 saves to lead the 12th-ranked Slippery Rock University men's soccer team to a 3-2 win over Mercyhurst in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament Saturday at Thompson Stadium.

Slippery Rock set a school record for single-season wins, improving its record to 18-3-1 with the win. The Rock will host third-seeded Charleston in the regional final Sunday at 2 p.m. after the 14th-ranked Golden Eagles defeated No. 4 Millersville 2-0 in a first round matchup Friday.

The Rock and Mercyhurst had met three times this season entering Friday with each team posting a 1-1-1 record. Slippery Rock won the rubber match on the weight of outstanding performances from Deighton and Blum.

Blum’s 14 saves are a career high and came at crucial moments throughout the game, keeping Slippery Rock alive. Mercyhurst finished the game with advantages of 31-21 in total shots and 17-8 in shots on goal and held a 7-6 edge in corner kicks.

Deighton, who had struggled against Mercyhurst this season, found the net with three perfectly placed headers to score his second hat trick of the season and run his season goal total to a career-high 20.

He opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the game when he flicked in a free kick that Toby Bowser sent into the box from the top of the right corner.

Mercyhurst answered when Michael De Rose scored just two minutes later off an assist from Dean Atkins to tie the game at 1-1.

The Rock retook the lead when Deighton headed in another pass from Bowser, this time a cross from the left side of the box, in the 14th minute.

Mercyhurst controlled possession for much of the remainder of the first half, but could not find the net, sending the game to halftime with Slippery Rock up 2-1.

The Lakers found the equalizer in the 73rd minute when Christoph Hampel beat Blum into the lower left corner of the net from the center of the box after taking a pass from De Rose.

Each team had chances down the stretch, including a shot by Mercyhurst’s De Rose with 10 seconds left that was snagged out of the air by Blum, but neither team could score, sending the match to overtime.

Slippery Rock came out firing in overtime and outshot Mercyhurst 4-2, but each keeper made big saves to keep the game tied at 2-2 after 100 minutes.

Neither team could find the net throughout the second overtime until Slippery Rock was awarded a corner kick with just under two minutes remaining in the game. On the corner, Kenneth Fultz sent the ball through the box where Deighton leaped and headed home the game-winner just inside the far post.

Blum was credited with the win after making 14 saves and allowing two goals. Diego Gustin took the loss for Mercyhurst after allowing three goals and recording five saves.

Diego Gustin took the loss for Mercyhurst, allowing three goals and making five saves.

Mercyhurst finishes its season at 14-6-1.

Slippery Rock advances to the NCAA Round of 16 for the second time in school history, where it will try to avenge a 1-0 loss to Millersville in last season’s second round. The Rock will face Charleston at 2 p.m. Sunday in the regional final. Slippery Rock defeated the Golden Eagles 1-0 at Egli Field in Slippery Rock on Sept. 16 earlier this season.

A complete preview of Sunday’s final, along with links for live coverage, will be posted to the Slippery Rock athletics Web site at Saturday.