Springfield, Mass. - November 5, 2017 - Despite a back-and-forth battle for 110 minutes, the Springfield College men's soccer team fell to WPI in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship via penalty kick shootouts on Sunday afternoon at Brock-Affleck Field. With the win, the Engineers claimed their first-ever NEWMAC Men's Soccer title.
Springfield College, which was ranked No. 22 in the latest D3soccer.com National Rankings, is now 14-1-2 and will look to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer National Championship Tournament, which will be decided on the NCAA Selection show, airing on NCAA.com at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, November 6. WPI, which earned an automatic qualification into the NCAA Tournament, is now 13-5-2 overall.
In net for the Pride, Stewart Frank (Pittsford, N.Y.) made a pair of saves, while his counterpart, Connor Hoeckele (Granby, Conn.), who was named the 2017 NEWMAC Men's Soccer Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, made seven saves in 110 minutes, and made three more in the penalty kick shootout to seal the victory for the Engineers.
Springfield College held a 29-10 shot advantage in the game, while both sides were awarded six corner kicks.
Springfield applied the pressure on the Engineers' defense early as it got off three shots in a span of 2:24 to begin the game, but Hoeckle and WPI's back line held tough, diminishing quality chances for the Pride. In the 24th minute, Springfield College looked to get on the board when Christian Schneider (Douglas, Mass.) snuck in behind the Engineers' defense, before letting a shot go, but a great defensive play forced the shot wide to keep the Pride at bay.
In the late stages of the first half, Springfield College had another opportunity, this time off of a corner kick from Jimmy Wilcox (Burlington, Conn.), which was headed towards the net by Xavi Arroyo (Concord, Mass.), before Glenn Smith (Windsor Locks, Conn.) intercepted and had a point-blank opportunity, but Hoeckle came up with a big save to keep the Pride off the board, sending the contest into halftime scoreless.
Opening the second half of play, the Pride had another quality scoring chance as Schneider sent a ball into the box from the wing, which was struck towards goal by Keon Haji (Shrewsbury, Mass.), but Hoeckele dove and got a hand on the bid, before Haji put another chance on cage, but the senior goalkeeper held tough and covered up the loose ball before it rolled across the goal line.
Springfield College kept pressing WPI's cage towards the end of regulation, as it got off three shots in the final 6:16, but all sailed just wide as the two sides finished 90 minutes in a scoreless tie.
The two overtime periods were just like regulation, a back-and-forth battle, as the Engineers held a 3-1 shot advantage in the two 10-minute frames. Neither side was able to find the back of the net, sending the game into a penalty kick shootout.
Stepping up first for WPI, Brendan Nemes (Kingston, Mass.) converted his chance, before the Pride's Douglas Enga (Syosset, N.Y.) followed suit, sending the shootout into the second round tied 1-1. In Round 2, Marvyn Dorchin (Belmont, Mass.), who was subbed in for the shootout, came up with a huge stop on Riley Doherty (Shrewsbury, Mass.), but Springfield College also missed its chance to keep the score at 1-1. Both keepers stifled their opponents in Round 3 as well, before Pavolas Christidis (Fairport, N.Y.) snuck one past Dorchin and Hoeckele made his third stop of the shootout to give the Engineers a 2-1 edge heading into the final round. Stepping up with the NEWMAC Championship on his foot, Ryan Stokes (Fairport, N.Y.) converted, clinching the title for WPI.