Millersville ousts Rockhurst in PKs
Benzing records 11th shutout of season to propel Marauders
MILLERSVILLE, Pa. -- It seemed like déjà vu for head coach Steve Widdowson and the Millersville senior class. For the second time in four years the Marauders headed to penalty kicks in a NCAA quarterfinal match at home. The 2011 version was much sweeter. Millersville advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament thanks to a 7-6 victory in penalty kicks against Rockhurst.
After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, the contest entered penalty kicks. After Pat Baffuto and Mark Magee both converted in the first round, Rockhurst goalkeeper Ryan Bass made a diving save to his left to deny Ethan Daubert. The Hawks scored on their next attempt to take a 2-1 lead through two rounds.
In the fourth round Millersville's John Claffey scored on his attempt to even it at 3-3 with the Hawks chance still to come. That's when Millersville got the stop it needed. Joe Huppe kicked the ball wide left to give Millersville new life and bring the teams back to even.
After five rounds the teams were tied 4-4, sending it into sudden-victory penalty kicks. Both teams made good through the next three rounds making it 6-6 through seven rounds. In the eighth, Millersville's Colby Zeger kicked it left as the keeper went right to make it 7-6 with Rockhurst's chance to come. John Merlo kicked the ball right and Marauders goalkeeper Brad Benzing dove right, stopping the ball and lifting the squad to their first NCAA semifinal appearance in school history.
Benzing recorded his 11th shutout of the season, tying the school's single-season record, including the sixth in a row -- with five coming in the playoffs. Benzing was pressured throughout but played well above his redshirt freshman status, making 10 saves in the game. Rockhurst's Bass collected his 14th shutout of the season in the draw.
Rockhurst (17-2-3), coming off a 2-0 win against reigning national champion Northern Kentucky, gave Millersville (14-6-2) trouble early in the game. The Hawks fired six shots, five on goal in the first half, while the Marauders could only muster one shot in the entire half. Benzing continued to shine making five saves to keep the game scoreless heading into the break.
The Marauders picked up their offensive attack in the second half, outshooting Rockhurst 4-3, but were unable to register a shot on goal. Rockhurst was also unable to find the back of the net with just one shot on goal in the second half sending the game into overtime.
The Hawks controlled most of the play in extra time. Rockhurst recorded two shots on goal in the first overtime that were both saved by Benzing. Millersville was unable to find a shot to force a second overtime.
Late in the second overtime a ball was sent into Rockhurst's offensive zone with Magee racing after it. The ball rolled into the top of the box with Benzing left to make a decision to charge or sit back. Benzing charged the ball in an attempt to beat Magee to the ball. Magee, getting to the ball first, fired a shot that deflected out off of Benzing's body, keeping the Marauders alive.
Millersville received several deep zone throw-ins later in the period, but the Marauders were unable to capitalize, sending the game into penalty kicks.