BRUNSWICK, Maine - Bowdoin first-year Zach Danssaert scored the game-winning goal with one second remaining in overtime to lift the Polar Bear men's soccer team to their first national semifinal appearance, 2-1, over Middlebury on Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Polar Bears (15-1-4) earn their school-record 15th win of the season and will face the winner of Lynchburg and Ohio Wesleyan on Friday, December 3, for a berth in the national title match.
Middlebury was making its third trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in the last four years and finish the season with a 16-4-1 mark, the second-most wins in school history.
After a scoreless first half that saw neither team garner any top-notch chances, the game opened up with a flurry of action early in the second period. Just two minutes into the stanza, Middlebury's Rob Cole controlled the ball on the right wing and delivered a centering pass to Brett Brazier. Brazier shrugged off a defender at the top of the box and left-footed a shot inside the right post, just beyond the reach of goaltender Dan Hicks, to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Bowdoin increased their offensive pressure following the goal,with their best chance coming with 32 minutes to go, when Sean Bishop's header deflected off the post to Eddie Jones, who rifled a shot high of the crossbar. Middlebury netminder Tim Cahill stymied the Polar Bears on several occasions, including consecutive outstanding saves inside the box off the foot of Bowdoin senior co-captain Ben Denton-Schneider with under ten minutes to play.
The Polar Bears were finally able to break through against Cahill, who had shut out Bowdoin for 281:46 minutes this season, in the 82nd minute. After a long possession in the
The game appeared destined for a second overtime until Bowdoin earned a free kick just outside the box with under 15 seconds remaining in the first extra session. The set piece was quickly played into the box to Nick Powell, whose header bounced off the post to the waiting foot of Zach Danssaert, who booted the rebound into the top right corner just before the horn sounded.
Hicks made seven saves in goal for Bowdoin while Cahill stopped five shots, all of which came after halftime. The Polar Bears held a 16-13 edge in shots and a 9-6 advantage in corners.
The NCAA semifinal appearance will be the first for the Polar Bears, who had not won an NCAA Tournament game prior to this fall. More information about the "Final Four" will be posted on the Bowdoin website Monday.
Photos courtesy of Brian Wedge Photography