Despite the cold and windy weather on Saturday, the Saints brought the heat in a 2-1 win against The Sage Colleges in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament. St. Lawrence men’s soccer trailed by one goal at the half, but returned to the field with a lot of power to start the second.
The Gators’ goalkeeper, TJ Zehner, made a save off of a header from senior captain Harry Copeland early in the second, but sophomore Chandler Short got a foot on the rebound inside of the six-yard box, placing it in the back of the net. The score remained tied for nearly 30 minutes of intense play, including several fouls from both teams and two yellow cards for SLU. The quick play kept fans on their toes, and the cheers could be heard from outside of the athletic facilities.
Morgan Smith ’17 played a role in setting up the winning goal for the Saints. A corner kick from the left side to first-year Austin Dilts was knocked down by a hand, resulting in a penalty kick. Junior Noah Bunton took a hard shot to the middle of the net, scoring his second penalty goal in two games.
Captain Rob Brandell ‘17 was very pleased with his teammates after the win and has positive expectations for continuing the season: “Boys showed great character today. The response after heading into halftime down a goal was tremendous. Credit to Sage for battling hard with us, but we proved resilient and dedicated to making a deep run to the tournament this year.”
Sunday’s weather was much more welcoming, and once again, the Saints dominated the field. SLU moves on to compete at least one more week after a 2-0 shutout over the University of Scranton. This game was the 13th shutout of the season for senior goaltender Ryan Roethel who has only given up eight goals in 21 games.
Bunton scored the first goal at the eight-minute mark off of a free kick from just outside of the box. Scranton’s keeper, Eric Hintz, did not even see the ball coming, as Bunton reset quickly for a ground-shot through the defenders to the far lower corner.
The Royals never came back, and the Saints played great defense with a sliding save from Copeland and five saves from Roethel. Senior captain Dan Hunt increased the Saints’ lead, scoring the final goal with just over 20 minutes remaining. Scranton defense focused on Copeland, but Smith snuck the ball to Hunt, who cut across the box and tucked it between Hintz and the post.
In response to how he played this past weekend, his game- winning goals, and to the upcoming game, Bunton stated, “I am extremely happy that I was able to play and be there for the team when they needed me. It doesn’t matter if I scored the goals or if it was someone else. The most important thing for me is having another week with the guys, especially the seniors, since it’s do or die at this point. … I will do anything for that to happen, whether it is playing a defensive role or doing my best to score so that we can go through to the next round.”
The Saints advance to the Sweet 16, where they will play Haverford College on Saturday, November 21 at 11:00am on the road. They currently have an overall record of 16-3-2 and hope to increase their eight-game win-streak.