NEW LONDON, Conn. - In the New England Collegiate Conference Semifinals, the Lesley University men's soccer team found themselves matched up with Mitchell College, a team that had beaten them 4-3 earlier in the season and finished conference play undefeated at 6-0. The Lynx, however, played a hard-fought and physical match, edging the Mariners 1-0 in an overtime thriller.
Just over five minutes into the first overtime, Scott Wheeler (East Hampton, Conn.) struck a firm header past Mitchell keeper Andrew Hall (Natick, Mass.) to send the Lynx into the NECC Championship. Wheeler was set up off a long throw-in toss from Zach Rocha (New Bedford, Mass.) who recorded his fourth assist of the season against conference foes.
The two teams battled through 90 minutes of regulation play, but neither team was able to get on the scoreboard despite combining for 42 shots. Mitchell, however, had the most opportunities as they outshot Lesley 30-12 and took more corner kicks, holding a 12-4 advantage.
The main reason for the Mariners' offensive struggle was Lesley keeper Zach Almeida-Beers (Rehoboth, Mass.) who recorded 13 saves in the shutout performance. Almeida-Beers continued his dominant streak between the posts as he has only allowed one goal in the last three games, all against NECC opponents.
Mitchell seemed poised for an overtime victory as their offense dominated taking six shots, four of which went wide and the other two that were saved by the Lynx goalie.
Four players received yellow cards and each team tallied 10 fouls in the aggressive postseason match. Phil Lund (Mililani, Hawaii), Beau Morimando (Bayshore, N.Y.), and Yair Correa (Pawtucket, R.I.) got yellow cards for the Lynx and Thomas Derosier (Killingly, Conn.) got one for the Mariners.
The victory for the Lynx comes just hours after four men's soccer players earned NECC All-Conference honors. Tyler Reeves (Coventry, Conn.), Wheeler, and Rocha earned First Team All-Conference and Correa earned Second Team All-Conference.
Lesley now moves on to their first ever conference championship in the three-year history of the men's soccer program at Lesley. The team faces off against Becker College at 1:00 pm on Sunday, November 2 in Leicester, Massachusetts (Alumni Field) for the NECC Championship.
To learn more about the Lesley University men's soccer team, please visit their website.
Sports Information Director