Men's Soccer Edges Middlebury in Penalty Kicks to Reach NESCAC Final

Stevie Van Siclen made four stops in regulation and then added three more in penalty kicks
Stevie Van Siclen made four stops in regulation and then added three more in penalty kicks

AMHERST, Mass. – After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, Connor Keefe scored the decisive penalty kick in the shootout round to give sixth-seeded Bowdoin College a thrilling victory over fourth-seeded Middlebury College following a 3-2 decision in penalty kicks in Saturday afternoon's NESCAC men's soccer semifinal contest at Hitchcock Field.

Bowdoin improves to 9-6-2 on the season and advances to the finals to take on second-seed Amherst College (13-1-3) at 12 p.m. at Hitchcock Field. The Polar Bears are making their first appearance in the tournament title game since the 2010 season. Middlebury, which will await a possible at-large selection to the NCAA Division III Championship, moves to 9-3-5 overall.

After a tightly-played 90 minutes of regulation, followed by back-and-forth action in two 10-minute periods of extra time, Bowdoin edged Middlebury in the penalty kick shootout round, 3-2.

Polar Bears' net-minder Stevie Van Siclen made a terrific diving stop to his right to get the shootout started, and Bowdoin's Kiefer Solarte scored his take to give the Polar Bears a 1-0 edge. After a miss from both sides, Noah Goss-Woliner leveled the round at 1-1, before Eric Goitia buried his try to give Bowdoin a 2-1 lead. A save each from Van Siclen and Middlebury goalkeeper Greg Sydor set the stage for the Panthers' Deklan Robinson who converted his shot to even the shootout at 2-2. Keefe then narrowly beat the dive of Sydor to give the Polar Bears a hard-fought victory.

Middlebury edged Bowdoin in shots 13-10, while the Polar Bears held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. Both Sydor and Van Siclen made a pair of stops during regulation, while Van Siclen turned away a pair of shots in the second overtime period.

Following the first period of overtime, the Panthers produced two terrific opportunities to score through a shot by Greg Conrad, and a header by Tom Dils, but Van Siclen was there with a pair of crucial saves, the second of which was a diving stop on his own goal line, to keep the score knotted at 0-0. Bowdoin's most threatening opportunity came in the 96th minute of action when Thomas Henshall blasted a shot from the right wing that glanced off the crossbar.

Bowdoin will look to avenge a regular-season loss to Amherst, 1-0, on September 13. The Polar Bears will be looking for their first NESCAC Championship in their third appearance in the title match.