MSOC: No. 4 Cougars Upended by Top-Seeded WPI in NEWMAC Semis

Photo: Katie Morrison
Photo: Katie Morrison

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Clark University men's soccer team saw their playoff run halted in the semifinal round of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament as Francesco Valagussa delivered the game-winner in the final 90 seconds of regulation to propel the Engineers to a 1-0 victory at Alumni Stadium on Thursday night.

The Basics

Score: Engineers 1, Cougars 0

Records: No. 4 Clark University (12-7-0) | No. 1 WPI (12-2-4)

How it Happened

The teams, just one week removed from their last meeting, were equally matched throughout the NEWMAC semifinal clash. In the first period, the Cougars held a slight advantage on the shot chart by a 7-6 margin while the Engineers put five of their attempts on net.

Goalkeeper Melvin Vincent (Rochester, Mass.) held firm in between the pipes for the Cougars during the opening 45 minutes as the junior turned aside all five shots to keep it deadlocked.

The Cougars had their best chance of the night just six minutes into the second period when senior Charlie Lane (Southboro, Mass.) gathered the ball outside the box before unleashing an attempt toward the crossbar, with his shot getting denied by Engineers' goalkeeper Rufus Adams who leaped up and punched the ball away.

With 21:43 to go in regulation, the theme of strong goalkeeping continued as Vincent made his second heroic save of the game, elevating to turn away a chip shot from inside the box. Later in the half, the Cougars halted another promising chance, this time as Lane mindfully hugged the goal line, cutting off a shot by Jackson Conroy to notch a defensive save and protect the vacated net.

The stop allowed the Cougars to gather momentum offensively as sophomore Brian Brennan (Stoneham, Mass.) and Sean Munroe (Silver Spring, Md.) each fired shots on net, with Adams maintaining his clean sheet with a pair of saves.

WPI struck with the game-winning goal with just 90 seconds left in regulation as the teams battled for possession inside the box following an Engineer corner kick. Luke Reiniger won the scrum for the ball before centering a pass up to Valagussa outside the box who guided a laser under the crossbar for the 1-0 final score.

Vincent shined for the Cougars as the junior collected 10 saves on 11 shots, finishing the season with a 9-6-0 record overall. The outing marked the third time this season Vincent logged ten or more saves in a game, with his performance Thursday just one stop shy of his career-high total of 11. 

The Cougars wrap up the 2019-20 campaign with 12 victories, the most for the program since the 2016-17 season. The win total on the year also marks the second-highest in a single-season since Matt O'Toole took over as head coach in 2012.

Men's Soccer Picks Up 5th Win
September 18, 2019 Men's Soccer Picks Up 5th Win