Worcester, Mass. – In a matchup of two teams that entered the game with a combined 17-0-1 record, it was visiting Springfield College that eventually prevailed, taking a 3-2 back-and-forth affair with Clark University in New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's soccer action Saturday afternoon.
The win for the Pride extends their unbeaten streak to ten games, while the Cougars see their season-opening win streak end at nine.
Score: Springfield College 3, Clark University 2
Records: Springfield College 9-0-1 (2-0-1 NEWMAC); Clark University 9-1-0 (2-1-0 NEWMAC)
Location: Granger Soccer Turf, Worcester, Mass.
How It Happened:
Clark had the first scoring chance of the highly-anticipated matchup when Sean Munroe (Silver Spring, Md.) found a loose ball on the right corner of the box, but his blast whizzed over the top or the crossbar less than two minutes into the contest.
The Cougars did dent the scoreboard first when Munroe was on the attack again and made an excellent run but was tackled inside the box by a Springfield defender. TJ Zirkman (Freehold, N.J.) then converted the ensuing penalty kick – his third of the season - at 13:42, giving Clark a 1-0 lead.
Springfield wasted little time evening the score, however, when Christian Schneider (Douglas, Mass.) sped through the Clark midfield and slipped a ball past a diving Connor Maguire (Dunstable, Mass.) a little more than three minutes later.
Things stayed that way until the opening moments of the second half when Luke Alvaro (Chicopee, Mass.) settled a header pass from Harrison Davis (Merrick, N.Y.) and with a defender on his back, spun and fired a shot into the far right corner for his league leading 12th marker of the season at 47:26.
Clark answered back, knotting the game at 2-2 when Charlie Lane (Southboro, Mass.) sent a long ball to a streaking Zack Blais (Tiverton, R.I.), who split a pair of defenders, maneuvered back to the right and sent a blistering shot into the lower right corner at 52:42.
Springfield looked as if they might go ahead in the 76th minute when Danny Murphy sent a ball to Alvaro who had his leaping header gobbled up by a sprawling Maguire.
That same combination did put the visitors ahead in the 84th minute with a similar play. Murphy served the ball into the left side of the box and Alvaro rose above a Clark defender and headed a blast towards Maguire, who was able to get fingertips on it but it wasn't enough as the ball found its way into the back of the net.
Man Of The Match:
Alvaro, who entered the match with a league-leading 11 goals, tacked on two more for the nation's leading scoring offense.
"Tough result for our team today," said Clark head coach Matt O'Toole. "We continued to battle back thorughout the game but just weren't able to take the lead in the end."
News You Need:
Clark, who entered the game tied with Springfield as the fifth stingiest defense in the country (0.33 goals allowed per game) yielded three goals in this contest, equaling their total number of goals allowed in the previous eight contests this season.
The Cougars will step out of league play when they wrap up their four-game homestand on Wednesday with a visit from Rivier, while Springfield plays host to Framingham State on Tuesday.