After what was a truly impressive and hard fought campaign, the Le Moyne men’s soccer team saw their hopes of an NE-10 title and their season slip away as they fell to Bentley University on Friday in the NE-10 Semifinals at Ted Grant Field by a score of 2-1.
Le Moyne has now made 17 consecutive postseason appearances, the second longest streak in the conference. The fifth seeded Dolphins came into Friday’s game fresh off a quarterfinal win against fourth seeded Southern New Hampshire University, a game that was decided by penalty kicks after either side failed to score in 110 minutes of game time.
Bentley, the eight seed, on the other hand was coming off probably the biggest upset of the season in the NE-10 as they took down the number one seed, and 8th nationally ranked, Adelphi University Panthers.
Le Moyne pounced first in the 20th minute, as they found the back of the net off the right foot of freshman defenseman Patrick Strauss following a beautiful cross into the box by senior midfielder Marcello Palucci. It was Strauss’s second goal of the season, both of which came in the last three weeks after he returned from injury.
It did not take long, however, for Bentley to find the equalizer as only five minutes later, one of their captains and second leading scorer, Sean Sullivan, was able to find the lower left side of the net on a gorgeous pass from his teammate Julian Stewart.
The score remained tied at one goal apiece until five and a half minutes into the second half when the ball found its way through the Le Moyne defense and to the right foot of Bentley’s Connor Mote to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead.
Bentley’s goalkeeper David Price then stopped two sure fire equalizing chances from Le Moyne to hold the lead at 2-1 as the final two minutes approached. These were Price’s only two saves of the day as Le Moyne was only able to muster three shots on goal in the contest after averaging over six a game in the regular season.
A wild exchange with only 1:27 remaining on the clock sent those in attendance at Ted Grant Field into a frenzy as what was the game-tying goal from Patrick Strauss was waved off due to an offside call. As crazy as it may seem, the same scenario with almost exactly the same amount of time on the clock happened in Bentley’s upset of Adelphi a few days prior.
Like they did against the Panthers, Bentley was able to keep the ball out of their own end for the final minute and half to pull off their second upset in three days and move on for a chance to win the NE-10 title on Sunday against Merrimack.
This was the final game in the collegiate careers of some very successful seniors including their mainstay in goal Ben Beaury. He finishes his career with the most shutouts in program history (28) and is second among goalkeepers in appearances and starts (76).
After having the kind of success the Dolphins had this season, Beaury, along with four of his teammates, were deservedly named to the NE-10 All-Conference teams.
First-year graduate student and the conference’s leading goal scorer (18) Marek Weber and sophomore Salar Faryar were selected to the first team. First-year graduate student Niklas Breunung found his way onto the second team with Beaury rounding things out on the third team.
Freshman defensive standout Saemundur Óli Bjornsson was named to the NE-10 Conference All-Rookie team this season as well.
Marek Weber accrued the most productive first season in the program’s history. His 18 goals were the most in the NE-10, fourth in the nation and the second highest total by a Dolphin in a single season ever. He tallied two hat-tricks and finished the season with 38 points, which are the most points in a season in the NE-10 in almost a decade.
Although Le Moyne (11-5-3, 7-4-2 NE-10) saw their season end before they may have wanted it to and are losing a very successful senior class, the future is bright for the Dolphins. By returning their top four goal scorers next year, who helped them to their 11th best goal total in program history and their best in a decade, Le Moyne has all the weapons they need to make a run at the NE-10 Title and beyond in 2018.