Nov. 12, 2010

Courtesy of Mercyhurst Athletics

ERIE, Pa. - The first round of the Atlantic region NCAA tournament kicked off today at Mercyhurst College. The No.2 seeded Men's soccer team played to a 1-0 loss against No. 3 seeded West Virginia Wesleyan. The Bobcats netted the game winner when Kurt Donaldson capitalized on a well placed free kick.

The win for West Virginia Wesleyan gives the Bobcats another shot to play against in-conference rival Charleston University. The two teams have played twice thus far this season with Charleston beating them in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game.

The Lakers conclude a season where they went 13-3-3 and were off to the best start of the program since 2002. In the first 14 games of the season the Lakers held a 12-0-2 record, but in the last five games the Lakers struggled, going 1-3-1.

During the first half Mercyhurst controlled play for a majority of the time. Mercyhurst didn't shy away from shooting the ball as they outshot the Bobcats, 11-4 and also held a corner kick advantage, 5-1. In a two minute stretch starting at the 12:03 mark the Lakers ripped four shots at the Bobcats goal, the defense for West Virginia Wesleyan blocked three of the four shots. Ryan McDougall of West Virginia Wesleyan saw his first action of the day when he saved a shot that was rifled by senior Dean Atkins. McDougall's counterpart, Lakers goal keeper Ryan Wagner made his first save just one minute later to keep the game scoreless.

During the 19th minute graduate student Sam Gore chased down an attacking forward who was on a breakaway, Gore made a great play on the ball to deny the forward of getting a shot off. Atkins, senior Tommy Lund, and sophomore Matias Karioja all put shots on goal in the last ten minutes of the first half but they all ended with a McDougall save. The Bobcats and Lakers entered half time knotted at zeros.

Ten minutes into the second half the Lakers committed what would be the costliest foul of the season. Off the set piece Matthew Brown of West Virginia Wesleyan found an opening in the defense of Mercyhurst and took advantage of the space. The free kick was centered, and then kicked out of mid-air by Donaldson, the ball hurled at the far post sneaking just inside breaking the tie. The goal would be all the Bobcats needed as the Lakers struggled putting the ball in the ball into the back of the net. Again, the Lakers outshot the opposition, 8-2 and held a slim corner kick edge, 2-1.

Both defenses played excellent games, the Lakers only allowed six overall shots on the day and the Bobcats showed their resilience against what was a strong Laker attack who fired 19 shots at the goal.