Nov. 14, 2009

Courtesy of Western New England Athletics and Ben Cohen

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- It was a match that players from both teams will be talking about for a long time.

Senior Jason Sabia (Poughkeepsie, NY) scored the only goal to lead Western New England College to a dramatic 1-0 victory over Babson in an opening round match of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship at Jackson Field on the Wesleyan campus.

The Golden Bears (16-5-3) will meet the host Cardinals (who blanked St. Joseph, Maine 2-0 in the first match) at 1:00 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 15) at Smith Field.

The change of venue occurred after a day of steady rain, which made the field nearly unplayable by the time the Golden Bears posted their school record 16th shutout of the season.

Players from both teams performed brilliantly under extremely difficult weather conditions. There were several downpours during the match and passing the ball was almost impossible.

Sabia was able to break through when he found the lower right side of the net with a driving shot off a deflection in the 69th minute. It was his fourth winning goal of the season.

Babson had a couple of outstanding scoring opportunities in the closing minutes, but couldn't net the equalizer.

WNEC senior goalkeeper Kyle Bak (Cumberland, RI) compiled four saves for his 12th shutout of the campaign.

Senior back David Fitzpatrick (Burnt Hills, NY) was the defensive hero saving a goal in the first half with a diving team save.

Babson (15-6-1) had a slim advantage in shots (11-10) and corner kicks (4-3). Sophomore keeper Peter Crowley (Lexington, MA) stopped two shots.

This was only the Golden Bears' second win over the Beavers in 14 meetings and first since a 2-1 win in 2005. The last five meetings have been decided by a single score.

Babson was ranked fifth in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division III New England Poll while WNEC was eighth (its highest showing of the season).

Western New England College and Wesleyan played to a 0-0 double overtime tie in their regular season meeting September 20 in Springfield.