West Haven, CT –
Saint Francis (PA) will play for the Northeast Conference Men’s Soccer Championship Title for the first time since 2010. The No. 4 Red Flash overcame heavy pressure by top-seeded Quinnipiac and edged the Bobcats, 4-3, in penalty kicks after playing 110 minutes deadlocked, 1-1, on Saturday afternoon at West Haven High School.
With the tie, Saint Francis (PA) moves to 6-7-6 overall and will play either Monmouth or Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday, Nov. 11. Due to the inclement weather that forced Friday’s games to be moved, please check back at www.northeastconference.org
for an exact location. Quinnipiac, meanwhile, ends its season at 10-5-3.
Junior Nick Kolarac (Pittsburgh, PA/West Allegheny)
converted the Red Flash’s fourth penalty kick, and senior Daniel Valcicak (Herndon, VA/Gonzaga College)
made two saves in the shootout, putting the Red Flash in position to capture their first championship in program history. Valcicak was one of the main reasons why the score stayed tied as he put on a spectacular eight-save performance. He made five stops through regulation and three in the second overtime as Quinnipiac outshot the visitors 17-6 for the game.
Despite that lofty shot advantage, it was Saint Francis (PA) with the fireworks early on. The Red Flash broke the ice with just 93 seconds elapsed after a failed clearing attempt by the Bobcats in their own zone. Ryan Byers (Scottsdale, PA/Southmoreland)
picked off the pass on the 20-yard line, made a quick move to evade a defender and ripped a left-footed shot to the top corner for the score. It marked his first goal of the season, and it was the fastest goal scored to open an NEC Tournament game since 2006, when Monmouth’s Steven Holloway found the back of the net just 1:55 in against Robert Morris.
The score would remain in favor of the Red Flash until 11 minutes in to the second half, when All-NEC First Team selection Philip Suprise (Milwaukee, WI/Pius XI)
struck paydirt off a great through ball from Simon Hinde (Canberra, Australia/Narrabundah College)
. Suprise took the pass near midfield and outraced a defender to the top of the box, where he unleashed a low shot to the far left post with 34:08 to play.
Both teams then went back and forth with each squad getting an opportunity. SFPA looked to take the lead near the midway point with a header off the crossbar and a shot off the rebound that went just wide. QU, on the other hand, saw a couple of rushes snubbed out by the Red Flash defense shortly after.
The biggest chance, however, came with 90 seconds to play in regulation when Borja Angoitia (Bilbao, Spain/Erandio and Wasilla)
robbed Byers of his second goal of the game in the box, forcing overtime. He finished the game with two saves.
As noted, please check back at www.northeastconference.org for an exact site of Sunday's championship game on Saturday evening. Fans who can't attend the game can view the action free of charge on www.necfrontrow.com.