Polar Bears Advance in NCAA's, Beat Amherst in Penalty Kicks

Polar Bears Advance in NCAA's, Beat Amherst in Penalty Kicks

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Goaltender Dan Hicks made two saves and Bowdoin buried three of their four chances in a penalty kick shootout to lift the Polar Bears to the sectional final of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. Bowdoin and Amherst played to a 1-1 deadlock through overtimes before the Polar Bears advanced with a 3-1 decision in kicks.

Amherst finishes their season with a record of 13-2-4. Bowdoin, who had twice lost in penalty kicks in NCAA play in 2009 and 2005, stands at 14-1-4 and will play Middlebury for the third time this season on Sunday for a trip to the Division III "Final Four". Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Pickard Field.

After both teams connected in the first round of the best-of-five shootout, Hicks blocked consecutive chances by Amherst's T.J. Kelly and Ben Norton. In the bottom of the third round, Michael Gale slipped a shot past Amherst's Lennard Kovacs to give the Polar Bears a 2-1 edge. Ian Rothkopf booted his kick high of the crossbar and Evan Gershkovich, who did not see action during the 110 minutes of play, coolly netted a chance inside the left post to win the shootout.

Bowdoin appeared to be in good shape in regulation, as they took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when Tim Prior headed home a bouncing ball in front to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. The Polar Bears made a bid to extend the lead to two goals in the 60th minute after an Amherst handball in the box. But Kovacs, who stopped six shots in the second half alone, smothered a penalty kick chance to keep the deficit at a single goal.

Amherst responded with a flurry of pressure and capitalized on their momentum with the game-tying score in the 73rd minute as Thebe Tsatsimpe centered a cross to Noon, who banged home the feed to even the score. Both teams had great chances to seal the victory in the closing moments. With five minutes left in regulation, James Mooney came loose behind the Polar Bear defense and toed a shot that skipped wide of the post. In overtime, Bowdoin's Alex Marecki had a chance to clinch the win, but his shot was blocked in front.

Kovacs finished the match with eight saves while Hicks ended with seven. Bowdoin will face Middlebury for the third time this year after losing to the Panthers 2-0 in their regular season meeting and playing to a scoreless tie in the NESCAC title match. The winner advances to the NCAA semifinals in San Antonio, Texas on December 3.

Photos courtesy of Brian Wedge Photography.

BRUNWSICK, Maine – Junior Otis Pitney scored the game-winning goal at the 79-minute mark to snap a scoreless tie and give Middlebury College a thrilling 1-0 victory over Babson College in the Third Round of the 2010 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament at Bowdoin College on Saturday morning.

With the victory, the Panthers, ranked 14th in the nation by the NSCAA, advance to Sunday's Regional Final where they will meet either Amherst College or the host Polar Bears at 1 p.m. Meanwhile, Babson sees its outstanding 2010 season come to a close with a record of 16-4-2.

Both teams had numerous scoring chances in an evenly-played first half, beginning when Babson sophomore Josh Danesh sent a cross from the left side that was intercepted by Panthers' junior keeper Tim Cahill just before it reached streaking junior Billy Nickerson in the 11th minute.

The Beavers had another strong chance when junior Jimmy Stento beat a defender on the right wing and sent a cross through the box in the 25th minute, but the ball sailed just over the head of sophomore forward Eric Anderson in front and junior captain Max Walker's follow-up bid from the left side sailed well over the net.

Middlebury nearly broke through at 34:25, when sophomore Jon Portman found space at the top of the box and ripped a shot toward the left corner. However, the ball ricocheted off the left post and back through the box before it was cleared away by the Babson defense.

Portman had another great opportunity in the closing minutes of the first, but his shot from the left side was stopped by Crowley and the rebound was cleared off the goal line by first-year back Salvatore Percival. The Panthers would have a pair of corner kicks in the final 30 seconds of the period, but the Beavers successfully denied both as the two teams entered halftime tied at 0-0.

The second half once again saw both teams enjoy excellent scoring chances, with Babson's Walker missing just above the cross bar off a failed clear at 60:48 and Middlebury senior Taylor Wilkins doing the same with a header off a corner kick at the 68-minute mark. Crowley then made a spectacular diving save to his left on a rocket off the foot of Panthers' junior Tyler Macnee at 73:40, as the contest remained scoreless.

Middlebury finally snapped the deadlock with just under 11 minutes remaining in regulation, beginning when Macnee intercepted a Babson pass near midfield. The junior striker then slid a perfect through-ball to a streaking Pitney, who broke in alone on Crowley and tucked a shot into the lower right corner for the game's first goal at 79:03. It was Pitney's sixth goal of the season, while the assist was Macnee's third.

Babson would threaten to tie the game when junior Ryan Obolewicz got a lunging foot on a lead pass from Stento near the right post with six minutes remaining, but Cahill made an easy save. The Beavers then had one final attempt with a free kick from midfield with 30 seconds remaining, but the Panthers' keeper made a clean catch on the ensuing service to clinch the 1-0 Middebury victory.

The Panthers will now make their third appearance in the National Quarterfinals in the last four seasons. Their total of 16 victories this fall is second only to the 18 wins earned by the 2007 National Championship team.

Story courtesy of Babson Sports Information