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Middlebury Clips No. 14 Men’s Soccer on Penalty Kicks to Advance to Semifinal Round of NESCAC Tournament

MT Tshuma

NEW LONDON, Conn. – After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer and outshooting its opponent by a lopsided 24-4 margin, the No. 14 Connecticut College men's soccer team saw its conference postseason run come to an end when it came up short in penalty kicks, 4-3, in a NESCAC Quarterfinal matchup against Middlebury on Saturday afternoon at Freeman Field.

The teams played two 10-minute overtime periods without anyone threatening before moving to a shootout to decide who would advance to the semifinal round to face top-seeded Amherst. Middlebury, which shot first, took a 2-1 lead on goals by Ben Potter and Kieran Bhave until junior goalkeeper AJ Marcucci missed the first shot by either side. Noah Hannam nailed a shot into the upper right corner of the net that Marcucci got his hand on, and then sophomore Augie Djerdjaj (Mahopac, N.Y.) converted to make it 3-3 through five chances for each side to force a sudden death round of shots.

Liam Sloan found the left corner to give the Panthers a 4-3 edge, and junior Justin Miranda (Winchester, Mass.) unfortunately had his stopped by backup goalie Marco Kaper, who dove down and to his left, to allow the Panthers to advance.

Middlebury (7-2-7) nearly scored in the very early stages of the match shortly after earning a free kick from just outside the box on the left endline. Ben Potter sent a dangerous ball in that was nearly knocked in through a scrum of players, but Marcucci was able to scoop it up and clear it away.

Moving forward, the Camels dominated play throughout regulation by unleashing 24 shots and only allowing the Panthers to take four. A laser off the foot of sophomore MT Tshuma (Magwegwe, Zimbabwe) was met with a diving save by Ryan Grady in the 11th minute, and the forward had additional shots blocked by a defense which has surrendered just nine goals all season.

Connecticut College's best of many chances in the second half came when senior Matt Butera (Westfield, Mass.) took a pass from the top of the penalty area and ripped a shot to the lower left corner in the waning minutes, but Kaper made a diving save to keep the match scoreless. Kaper then came up with two key additional saves in the shootout to vault the Panthers into the semifinals.

Grady and Kaper each made three saves during the first 110 minutes of action for Middlebury. Marcucci, meanwhile, only had to make one stop in the contest for the Camels, who also earned all nine of the corner kicks in the match.

Connecticut College (10-3-3), which entered the week ranked third in the NCAA Regional Rankings, will now await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. The selections will be announced on Monday, Nov. 11 at 1:30 p.m.