SALEM, Va. — Emory senior Andrew Natalino scored two goals and assisted on another, leading the Eagles to a dominating 4-1 victory against Roanoke in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The win gave Emory just its second tournament victory in the program’s history and its first in its last 13 NCAA championship games. In addition, the four goals were a tournament-best for the Eagles and Natalino became the first Emory player to score multiple goals in a postseason contest.
Emory’s offensive combination of sophomore Dylan Price and Natalino struck early to get the squad off to a strong start. In the 19th minute, Natalino came down the near sideline, setting up a one-on-one with the defender near the end line. He sent a low cross in front of the net, where Price was waiting to tap it home for his 12th goal of the season. It was the third assist of the season for Natalino.
Natalino added on to the Eagles’ lead in the 38th minute with his 13th goal of the campaign. Freshman Sebastian Hardington took possession in the middle of the field and sent a pass along the far side of the 18-yard box to Natalino to set up a breakaway. Natalino was able to finish with a shot across the face of the goal and into the right corner of the net for the score, giving Hardington his second assist of the year.
Emory carried the 2-0 lead into halftime, as the Eagles dominated the first 45 minutes of play. Emory peppered Roanoke’s freshman goalkeeper Cole Sinclair with seven shots on goal during the frame and eight total shots, while the Eagles’ defense held the Maroons to just three shots. Emory freshman keeper Abe Hannigan saved the only attempt on goal.
It would not take long into the second half for Emory to extend the lead. Freshman Connor Curtin was able to settle down a long, bouncing pass into the box from sophomore Michael Rheaume close to the end line. When Sinclair came out of the goal to try and stop Curtin’s advance, Curtin was able to slide a shot past the oncoming keeper and into the net. It was the first collegiate goal for Curtin and assist for Rheaume.
Natalino capped off the game with another score, notching his 14th of the season in the 61st minute.
Roanoke got on the board in the 77th minute, making it a 4-1 contest when Robbie Lentine knocked in a cross by Tyler Carbaugh. However, the Eagles continued to control possession for the remainder of the game, holding on to the lead. Emory finished the game with a 14-5 edge in shots and a 13-3 advantage in shots on goal against the Maroons.
Hannigan made two saves during the game to earn the victory for the Eagles.
The win gave Emory its first NCAA tournament win in more than 24 years, dating back to a 1-0 second-round win against North Carolina Wesleyan on Nov. 6, 1988. It marks the eighth time that Emory has reached Round 2 of the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles improved to 11-6-2 on the season, while Roanoke’s season came to a close with a 13-5-1 record.
Emory will take on top-ranked Messiah (19-0-1) on Sunday.