Men's soccer gets second chance in NCAA tourney

Despite falling to Union College for the second time this season in the Liberty League Tournament semifinals, the RPI men’s soccer team still has much to look forward to after earning berth to the NCAA Division-III soccer tournament to be held this weekend. The Engineers, who finished the season 13-2-2 overall, ended their run to the Liberty League crown after two overtime sessions on Wednesday evening. The Dutchmen improved to 11-5-0, but ultimately fell to Hobart College in the tournament finals.

RPI, currently ranked No. 6 in the nation, came back from a 1-0 deficit in the first half to score back-to-back goals and come out ahead 2-1. Freshman Tom Kelly tied the match up in the 48th minute after heading the ball following a corner kick from senior Michael Long that soared past Union sophomore netminder Adam Margulies.

Kelly would net his second of the night at the 63rd minute to give Rensselaer the temporary lead. After junior Bryce Hutchinson carried the ball up the field, he crossed the ball over to Kelly, who had his initial shot blocked, but quickly grabbed the rebound to send the ball over Margulies for the go-ahead goal.

Union evened the game up in the 86th minute after a corner kick from sophomore Kevin Giron soared into traffic in front of Rensselaer’s net. Junior keeper Alex Penny tried to make the save, but accidently knocked the ball into the net for an own goal.

Both teams battled through the first 10-minute overtime session, but it would be the Union Dutchmen who would end up on top. Into the 103rd minute of play, junior John Manna—who scored the game’s first goal—found a loose ball and rifled it toward the net. The shot deflected off the post and behind Penny for the sudden-death game-winner.

RPI held the advantage in shots, 18-9, but could not convert in either overtime period. Penny made four saves in only his second loss this season, while Margulies ended with eight stops.

Following the conclusion of the Liberty League season, nine student athletes were selected for end of the year awards. Seniors Lincoln Field and Jabel Prom, along with Penny, were selected to the Liberty League First-Team, while senior Sean Fleury, sophomore Brad Shelofsky, Kelly, and Long were tabbed with Second-Team honors. Earning league honorable mentions were junior Blake Adams and senior Kevin Swift.

In addition, Head Coach Adam Clinton and Assistant Coach Nick Bochette—a former RPI graduate—earned Coaching Staff of the Year honors. Clinton, in his eighth season as coach of the team, helped the squad achieve top-10 rankings in a number of categories, including fifth in goals against average (0.51), and first in fewest goals allowed (9), fewest points allowed (23), fewest points allowed per game (1.53), and shutouts (10).

Rensselaer will host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament this weekend. Saturday, RPI takes on the Eastern Connecticut State College Warriors on Saturday at the East Campus Athletic Village, with the game time yet to be determined. Should the Engineers win, they will face the winner of Williams College vs. Husson University which would be held on Sunday, also at ECAV.