Rensselaer men’s soccer fell in the second round of the NCAA Division-III soccer tournament this past Sunday after putting forth a stellar performance to reach advanced play in the season. RPI, ranked No. 13 in the nation, took down No. 20 Eastern Connecticut State College in a tight 1-0 bout on Saturday afternoon before falling 1-0 to No. 6 Williams College on Sunday. The Ephs advance to the sectionals round, which consists of 16 teams, and will play the York College of Pennsylvania Spartans this Saturday.
Capping off a record season, the Engineers finished 14-3-2 overall, including a 5-1-1 Liberty League record. This was the sixth time in program history—and the second season straight—that RPI has made the NCAA tournament. Prior to this season, Rensselaer had only advanced to the second time in one other season, 1997.
Saturday’s match pitted RPI against the Eastern Connecticut State Warriors, the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Senior Jabel Prom netted the game’s only goal in the 49th minute, which proved to be enough to give the homestanding Engineers the victory. Classmate Sean Fleury sent the ball from the left half of the field over to fellow senior Lincoln Field, who initiated the pass to Prom, resulting in the goal. Field caps off a superb career, leading the Engineers with 18 points this season, including a team-high seven goals and three assists.
Junior keeper Alex Penny kept the Engineers alive following an attempt from Warrior freshman Tyler Edwards in the 86th minute, keeping Eastern Connecticut scoreless and earning his 10th shutout of the year. Penny finished with five saves on the night, while on the other end of the field sophomore Carl Appel ended with three stops.
The excitement and momentum from the playoff victory was not enough to break down the Ephs squad as another one-goal game on Renwyck Field did not work in Rensselaer’s favor. Williams College junior Charles Romero netted his second goal in as many days to propel the Ephs to the upcoming Sweet 16. Just over 19 minutes into the match, Romero redirected a shot from junior Eph Gaston Kelly, just inside the far post and past the reach of Penny. Moments earlier, Penny made a spectacular breakaway save on senior Pierre Meloty-Kapella.
Rensselaer had several chances in the first half to knot the game up, including a shot from Fleury from the left side that went just inches wide of the post. In addition, senior Kevin Swift nearly headed the ball past senior Eph goaltender Andrew Graham off classmate Michael Long’s corner kick in the 40th minute, but could not find the back of the net.
The Engineers will graduate a core of their team this season, including Travis Connell, Ben Russell, Luke Burton, Fleury, Long, Field, Prom, and Swift; however, the talented squad has several players waiting in the wings to step up and lead the team to further success in the upcoming seasons. Knowing what this team and its top-rate coaching staff are capable of after this impressive year on the soccer pitch, RPI can hold much pride and anticipation for what is to come next season.