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Men’s Soccer’s Historic Campaign Ends in Second Round of NCAA Tournament

Liam Donelan

NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Connecticut College men's soccer team's most successful season in program history came to an end on Sunday afternoon at Freeman Field, as Ramapo scored an early goal and then held on for dear life the rest of the way to earn a 1-0 victory over the host Camels in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In a physical match which featured the teams combining for seven yellow cards and 32 fouls, Ramapo (17-3-2) took full advantage of one of the mistakes made by the Camels to pot the only goal it would need in an unforeseen situation. After a foul was called by the Camels from about 70 yards away from their goal, defender Justin Charkowski let the ball fly. It took one bounce, and was then headed home by Joseph Fala, who used his 6-foot-7 frame to his advantage to net his national-best 27th goal of the season.

Connecticut College took control of the match the rest of the way and had countless opportunities to score the equalizer. The best opportunity in the first half came in the 40th minute when goalie Joshua Schaeffer took down senior Christian Murphy (Newport News, Va.) inside the box to give the hosts a penalty kick. The sophomore, however, made up for his blunder by diving to his left to save the ensuing shot attempted by senior Ben Manoogian (Peabody, Mass.) to keep the Roadrunners ahead.

The Camels relentlessly continued to pressure Schaeffer and the Roadrunner defense for the remainder of the game by most notably outshooting their opponent, 7-2, and holding a commanding 6-0 advantage in corner kick opportunities over the last 45 minutes. Sophomore Liam Noonan (Calabasas, Calif.) helped to nearly tie the match in the 82nd minute when he sent a ball in that was stopped and redirected by a teammate, but a Ramapo defender came out of nowhere and cleared the ball away just before it could cross the goal line to force a corner kick.

Butera's next cross appeared to be cleared away, but the Camels possessed the ball and got it to an open Manoogian, who got a point-blank look from inside the box by staying onside. The senior beat Schaeffer after missing his penalty kick earlier in the game, but this time, the ball was stopped by the left post. Schaeffer turned away three more attempts in the last five minutes, allowing the Roadrunners to survive and advance to the next round.

By making seven saves, including one on a penalty shot, Schaeffer picked up the victory between the pipes for the Roadrunners. Sophomore goalkeeper AJ Marcucci (West Chester, Pa.) stopped three shots and suffered the setback.

Connecticut College (13-3-2), which earned the right to host NCAA Tournament matches for the first time ever, completed arguably its best season in program history. Under the guidance of Kenny Murphy, who was named the NESCAC Coach of the Year, the Camels registered their highest wins total since 1978 and also won an NCAA postseason match for the first time. The program graduates seven seniors and is slated to return more than 20 letterwinners next season.