Saints, Vassar Tie; Brewers advance on Penalty Kicks
Penalty kicks were not kind to St. Lawrence University's men's soccer team on Wednesday, leading to an unwelcome weekend off for the Saints.
Sam DeMello had a second half penalty kick bang off the post and Vassar held the Saints, the only unbeaten and untied team in Division III nationally prior to Wednesday to a 0-0 tie through two 10-minute overtime periods in a Liberty League semifinal game at Archie MacAllaster Field. The Brewers, 10-5-3 then won a shootout 3-1 to advance to a Saturday championship match at third-seed RIT with the winner gaining the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournamentSt. Lawrence, 16-0-1 and ranked number one nationally through the last six weeks, should receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament when those bids are announced on Sunday.
"Vassar battled hard," said Saint coach Bob Durocher. "They played a very good defensive game and we didn't finish. It was one of the fears that we have had as a coaching staff, losing our senior veterans up front. We get the best effort from every team this time of the year, and while we certainly had our chances, we missed having the veteran finishers."
The Saints dominated play, outshooting Vassar 29-12 and had 13 corner kicks to five for the Brewers, but a big day by Vassar starting goalkeeper Ryan Grimme kept the Saints off the board in regulation time and junior Gary Causs, inserted as the Brewer keeper with just over 12 minutes to play and the shootout in mind, saved the first two Saint penalty kicks in the shootout to set the stage for the Brewers to advance.
Saint goaltender Brian Abernethy earned his 13th shutout of the season for the Saints, setting the SLU single-season record with four saves.
Grimme made 15 saves for the Brewers, several point blank and in scrambles to keep the game scoreless through the first overtime, and while Causs was not officially credited with a save, he was one of the heroes of the shootout for the Brewers with diving stops on the first two Saint attempts.
Sam Erlichson McCarthy scored as the first Vassar shooter in the shooutout and while Juliano Pereira missed high on the second attempt, Ross Macklin and Zander Mrlik both converted their tries. DeMello and Nick Lincoln were stopped by Causs with Alex Laird scoring on a shot to the right side of the cage. Mark Provost missed wide right on the Saints fourth try which ended the shootout.
"Penalty kicks are one of those things that can go either way," said Durocher. "We've worked on them, but it didn't work out today. Vassar gave us a tough game down there, and we created a lot more chances today than we did then, but we couldn't find the net. Now we'll regroup and see what happens on Sunday when the bids are announced."