Men's Soccer Comeback Stuns JWU in NCAAs; Next Stop: Amherst on Saturday, Nov. 10
Posted August 17, 2007
Junior forward Dan Hare (left) headed in the game-winning goal 2:11 into overtime as host Western New England College rallied for a 2-1 victory over Johnson & Wales University (R.I.) in a first round match of the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship on November 7.
The Golden Bears, who are playing in their fourth consecutive national tournament, will meet Amherst College in a second round contest at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 10. This was the first NCAA men’s soccer contest hosted by Western New England College.
Hare's dramatic winning shot, his fifth goal of the season, came on a direct kick by Mike Stewart (Springfield, MA) from about 30 yards out on the right side following a yellow card on the Wildcats. “I was just concentrating on getting a good shot,” said Stewart. “We have a designed play where we crash the net and Dan Hare set a great screen.”
After a scoreless first half, Johnson & Wales (14-5-3) took a 1-0 lead when senior forward Brian Sousa (Providence, RI) fired home his ninth goal of the season in the 50th minute with an assist from senior forward Barry Phillips (West Glover, VT).
Western New England College (15-5-2) kept moving the ball downfield, but the visitors time and time again cleared the ball out of their end of the field.
With time running out, the Golden Bears knotted the game when junior midfielder Tony Rosa (Ludlow, MA) scored off a corner kick in the 87th minute with an assist from junior defender Kevin Zimbal (Guilderland, NY). It was Rosa’s third goal of the season.
Senior goalkeeper Steve Hennessey (Essex Junction, VT) stopped two shots for the Golden Bears while freshman keeper Joe Ferraro (Freehold, NJ) made two saves for JWU.
Western New England College’s comeback came as no surprise to Stewart. “Our team concept is to believe and we stayed confident and positive. We controlled the flow of the game for the most part and I was confident we’d get more scoring opportunities,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, Stewart was selected the WNEC Male Athlete-of-the-Week after scoring the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Colby-Sawyer in the semifinals of The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) Tournament.
The Golden Bears had a 13-6 advantage in shots and commanding 13-2 edge in corner kicks. As expected, it was a hard-fought match between the two former Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) rivals. There were 28 fouls (17 for JWU and 11 for WNEC) and each team received a yellow card.
“Today was a truly glorious day for our program,” said Western New England College coach Erin Sullivan. “Hosting our first NCAA game, coming from behind to beat our old arch nemesis, and getting gutsy performances from our seniors, it just doesn’t get much better than that.
“Our team has really maintained a high level of belief all year. The players believe in themselves and each other, and it galvanizes us and spurs us on late in matches. Today’s comeback was built on the belief that anything is possible if you work together and compete for one another,” Sullivan stated.
The WNEC-JWU series was tied 9-9 entering the game and the Wildcats had won the last two meetings in Springfield, including a 2-1 overtime decision in the 2005 GNAC Tournament championship game. Western New England College advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament after capturing TCCC title in its first season in the league with a 3-0 victory over Wentworth, Johnson & Wales gained the GNAC Tournament crown with a 2-1 overtime win at regular season champion Norwich. The Golden Bears are 8-5 in one-goal decisions this season.
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