Men’s soccer grabs at-large bid to NCAA Championships

Courthney Shaffer November 10, 2016 0

Looking for a spot in the Landmark conference championship game, the Blue Jays came out ready to attack the Susquehanna University River Hawks on Saturday, Nov. 5. The top-seeded Elizabethtown College men’s soccer team was paired up against the number four seed in this semifinal match. Susquehanna had not made a conference appearance since they won the league title in 2013.

It only took the Blue Jays 15 minutes to break through the River Hawks’ defensive line. Sophomore defender Tyler Colasanto was wide open on the left post of Susquehanna’s net. First-year forward JD Haaf saw Colasanto and sent the ball his direction. Upon receiving, Colasanto swiftly sent the ball around the keeper and into the back of the net for his first career goal.

Haaf was the facilitator of another goal off the boot of sophomore Gilbert Waso. Haaf saw the opportunity to cross the ball from the right side of the field into the center of the 18-yard box where Waso was waiting. The ball sailed into a nest of players, but Waso was able to get his head on it and send it directly into the center of the goal. The Jays went up 2-0 only 32 minutes into play. The Jays remained two goals ahead of their opponents at the half.

Eight minutes into the second half of the game, the Blue Jays already found themselves in a position to strike. Off a save error from Susquehanna goalkeeper Matt Ellingworth, first-year Duncan George found the ball at his feet. A corner kick from Haaf bounced off the hands of Ellingworth, causing the ball to roll directly to George. George rebounded and with an immediate touch, sent the ball into the upper right corner of the goal. The goalkeeper did not even have time to reposition himself from the first save attempt.

It was not until the 66th minute of play that the River Hawks finally had a chance to make a move offensively. Susquehanna’s Maxfield Reed was able to put the River Hawks on the board after getting the ball around senior goalkeeper Ryan Sandell.

The Blue Jays owned the game offensively, taking 22 shots to Susquehanna’s 10. Out of Susquehanna’s 10 shots, only five of them made it on goal. Sandell made four saves in the victory.

With the win, the Blue Jays set up a Landmark Conference Championship game rematch against the University of Scranton on Saturday, Nov. 5. For the second year in a row Etown hosted the Royals in the title game. The Blue Jays were looking to avenge their loss from last season’s championship game.

Scranton goalkeeper Eric Hintz was strong and ready for all the Blue Jays’ shots on goal. The first attempt was made early in the game by Waso. Hintz was quick to pick up the save and send the ball downfield.

The Royal’s quickly followed the Blue Jays’ attack and picked up their first and only goal of the match in the 11th minute. On a corner kick, Scranton’s Michael Bergen crossed the ball from the right side of the field toward the back post. Bergen hit teammate Tom DiBisceglie, who headed the ball toward the net. Scranton’s Connor Casey was able to get his head on the ball as well, flicking it past Sandell for the only goal of the game.

Moments later, Scranton threatened Etown’s back line again as Bergen blasted the ball toward the upper section of the goal, only to hit the crossbar.

After being awarded a red card in the 30th minute, the Blue Jays were on edge due to having to play a man down. Etown worked tirelessly for the rest of the first half to try and get themselves on the board. Waso, Haaf and junior Scott Hess all had an opportunity to put the ball on net. Waso and Haaf each had their shots saved by Hintz, and Hess came up just shy of the bottom left corner. His ricochet off the post and went out of play.

The Blue Jays came out of halftime strong as they were looking for an equalizer. Senior Noah Andrews had an opportunity to tie the game at one when he sent the ball toward the back post, getting it behind the goalie, only to have it saved by the Scranton‘s defensive line.

Scranton had another attempt to score in the 78th minute, but Sandell made another save.

Nearing the end of play, Hess had another attempt to put the Blue Jays on the board. His shot was missed by Hintz but saved by Scranton defender Michael Donnelly, who sent the ball back up field.

Scranton dominated the rest of play and held the ball in Etown’s defensive end until the end of the game.

With the 1-0 win, Scranton automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament. The Blue Jays had to wait until Monday to find out their season’s fate. Last year, Etown was left out of the NCAA Championship tournament after being ranked in the top 10 most of the season. This year, the Blue Jays were trying to prepare themselves for whatever news would come.

The NCAA selection show had great news for this year’s team: The Blue Jays were picked as one of the field’s 64 teams. Etown will travel to Rutgers-Newark University this Saturday, Nov. 12 for a match with Vassar College. Vassar is a school based in Poughkeepsie, New York and finished the season with a 14-3-2 record overall. Vassar won the Liberty League Championship with a 3-2 victory over Skidmore College. Etown and Vassar have never played each other.

The Blue Jays will look to earn a first round victory and move to Sunday’s second round to play either Rutgers-Newark or New England College. Saturday’s kickoff against Vassar is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

 

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