Men’s soccer falls to Colgate in Patriot League championship
Senior Chris Fanet notches lone goal for the Eagles
After 110 minutes of grueling soccer without a clear winner, the Patriot League Championship was decided on penalty kicks on Sunday afternoon at Reeves Field, with the AU men’s soccer team ultimately falling to Colgate University 5-4.
Freshman midfielder Max Holdsworth and senior midfielder Dale Ludwig had penalty kicks saved by Raiders goalkeeper Ricky Brown after AU converted their first four spot kicks. Freshman goalkeeper Will McCreight, after having not played in regulation, was inserted into the penalty shootout and saved from Colgate’s Colin O’Neill in the third round of penalty kicks to give the Eagles the early advantage, but AU was unable to capitalize and close out the match.
“I told them [the players], ‘do not measure yourself on five penalty kicks, it’s Russian roulette’” head coach Todd West said.
The game finished tied at one after regular time after midfielder Ethan Kutler converted a second half penalty kick for Colgate and senior defender Chris Fanet scored off a corner kick late in the second half. Colgate’s victory, their sixth Patriot League title, guarantees them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It was the seventh time in the past nine seasons that the Eagles have lost in the Patriot League championship game.
AU seniors Jake Garcia, Michael Cherry and Panos Nakhid were named to the all-tournament team. Ricky Brown, Ethan Kutler, Zach Tamen and Jared Stroud were selected to the all-tournament team and Kutler was named the tournament MVP for his five goals in three matches.
Colgate nearly took the lead seconds into the match, but forward Zach Pagani’s header from a corner kick rattled off the crossbar. The Eagles used their speed throughout the first half to get down the flanks of the Colgate defense through senior midfielder Kibu Mbaluku on the right and senior midfielder Joe Iraola on the left, but were unable to create a clear cut scoring opportunity.
The stalemate lasted ten minutes into the second half, when Colgate was awarded a penalty kick after Garcia was ruled to have impeded a Raider attackers path to an aerial cross. Kutler dispatched the penalty kick low and to the right of AU senior goalkeeper Lucas Belanger to give Colgate the lead.
AU responded with increased intensity and nearly leveled when Ludwig redirected a cross from Nakhid into the side netting. The Eagles were awarded a penalty kick of their own when Ludwig was caught with a high foot inside the Raiders’ eighteen-yard box. Iraola stepped up to take the kick for the Eagles, but saw his low drive saved by Brown. AU found the equalizing goal on the ensuing corner kick, when Fanet met Iraola’s corner kick and headed the ball off the Colgate goalpost and into the net.
“When a PK gets saved [and] you’re down one-nil, a lot of teams could fold up shot,” West said. “But I thought we showed some resilience to find the goal right after that. That is a testament to the character of this group.”
Both teams had opportunities for late winners in regulation. Kutler had a pair of shots on the counter attack saved by Belanger, while junior midfielder Vinny Barone fired a low shot that was saved by Brown.
West said despite the result, he is still proud of the season his team had, especially his senior class.
“This [result] doesn’t take away from us winning the regular season and hosting the [Patriot League] championship and what this senior class has meant to us,” West said. “I can’t put it into words, but I love all those guys [the seniors] and they meant a lot to this program and this university.”