AMHERST, Mass. — In a gritty slugfest where they were outshot 21-6, No. 14 Stevens Institute pulled out a 2-1 victory against No. 4 Amherst in the Sectional Semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship. Curtis Stecyk scored both Stevens goals and goalkeeper Paul Killian came up with numerous outstanding saves to deliver the victory.
There was good pace to the game even in the opening minutes. Stevens earned two consecutive corners in that time, and three offside calls against Amherst proved they were able to get the ball deep in the Ducks’ zone as well.
With 24 minutes left in the first half, Stecyk’s header off a set piece put the first Stevens shot on goal.
Amherst was fired up throughout the game and looking to avenge their 2008 Final Four loss to the Ducks. The Lord Jeffs played physically, committing six of the game’s first eight fouls and forced the referee to issue more than a few verbal warnings to the home side.
With 21 minutes left Killian misjudged a cross that left a ball ripe for a Lord Jeff scoring opportunity but nobody was there to finish the play. Amherst continued to buzz around the Duck goal for the next few minutes, firing some wicked shots wide and earning multiple set pieces in the offensive zone.
Spencer Noon finally scored on a Duck defensive lapse with seven minutes remaining in the half, giving the Lord Jeffs a 1-0 lead. The goal made his Amherst’s all-time leading scorer.
Before things even had a chance to settle down, Stevens took possession from the kickoff, and a long rebound came to Stecyk well outside of the box. Stecyk was open, had time to line up his shot and let go a howitzer. The ball – bound for the upper right corner of the net – was still rising as it hit the twine to tie the match.
The game went to halftime close in nearly every category except shots, which the Lord Jeffs dominated 8-3.
Less than five minutes after the break, it was Stecyk again who singlehandedly generated a Duck goal. He dribbled down into the Amherst box and broke down the Lord Jeffs’ defensive line. A low shot to the left-hand corner of the net was out of the reach of the goaltender and gave Stevens the lead as the Duck bench exploded in celebration.
Following a similar pattern to the first goal of the game, Amherst nearly tied things up on the next possession – a shot hit the Stevens crossbar and the rebound presented a wide-open goal to Frederico Sucre. But the golden opportunity vanished as the ball sailed high and over the Stevens cage as the Ducks kept their 2-1 advantage.
Sucre’s header later in the half chased Killian back to the crossbar as the Stevens goalie punched it over for a corner kick. He made a fantastic catch off a header with 20 minutes remaining, diving to his left to snare a ball seemingly going to the net. Killian made another nice header save for good measure with 13 minutes remaining.
Amherst even brought up their goalie up to the front lines with one minute left, but was not enough as the Lord Jeffs were unable to come up with the equalizer. The hosts seemed to never have the final touch on the ball to capitalize on their chances, often due to Killian and good presence by the Ducks’ D.
As the match ended, many Amherst players collapsed prone on the field as the Ducks ended their season for the second time in four years.
The Lord Jeffs did doiminate the stat sheet as Stevens seemed content to hunker down and repel the Amherst attack once they secured the lead. They outshot Stevens 21-6, and owned an 8-5 advantage in corner kicks. Killian was forced to make seven saves while the Ducks managed just five shots on goal, though Stecyk found paydirt on two of them to lift Stevens into the Elite 8.