Cambridge, Mass- Lesley University and Elms College battled through 110 scoreless minutes of NECC Men's Soccer Semi Final action at Edwards Field hosted by Lesley University. The match was forced into a penalty kicks where the Blazers claimed the victory over the Lynx 4-2. With the win, Elms moves onto the Championship round Sunday November 5th at Mitchell College. The loss puts an end to Lesley's season, where they finished 9-9-1 on the year, their best since the 2014 season.
The two teams had a familiar match and knew it was going to be a battle. In regular season the Lynx earned a 4-3 come from behind victory in overtime, but it was the Blazers who prevailed tonight to extend their season.
Shots were at a minimal for most of the first half with the scoring opportunities coming in the last five minutes. Senior Anthony Vitta (Oceanside, NY) just missed the top of the net when he tried to lift it over the goalie. Less than a minute later Vitta connected again with a header, but hit the cross bar.
Elms had their biggest opportunity in the 44th minute off a Lesley foul just outside the eighteen-yard box. Joseph Larkin sent the free kick to the left corner of the net, but Senior goaltender James Webb (San Francisco, Calif) made a diving save to keep the ball out. The loose ball found the head of Babba Jaden for what seemed like a goal, but the referee quickly halted the play with an off-sides call.
In the final ten seconds of regulation, the Blazers illustrated what could have been a cinderella story ending. Anthony Romei hit a text book corner kick to the head of his teammate that trickled it's way to what looked like an empty back corner. Freshman Carter Bliss (Roseville, Calif) positioned himself right on the line and cleared the ball out of the danger zone and put the match into overtime.
Both squads had a couple scoring opportunities in overtime, but couldn't execute. The match was forced into penalty kicks to crown the victor. They exchanged goals for the first two rounds, CJ Dabjowski and Colby Macdonald for Elms, and Anthony Vitta and Ben Heishchuber for the Lynx. With the score even at 2, Elm's third kicker Justin Kassouf missed high and swung the excitement to Lesley. Keeper Aj Oliviera then made a huge diving stop for the Blazers to keep the score tied.
Kahlil Peters took the lead for the Blazers on the next shot and the Lynx were unable to retaliate in their next attempt. With a 3-2 lead going into the final round, Elm's Anthony Romei needed to hit the shot to secure the win and not give the Lynx an opportunity to tie it up. Romei handled the pressure and blasted it past Sophomore goaltender David Crutchfield (Shrewsbury, MA) to send the Blazers to the championship game.
"When we had opportunities, we just didn't finish tonight," said head coach James Costa. "I'm really proud of the guys, we have a very young team and we will be back in it again. I'm extremely happy with the how they performed all season and they really grew as a unit. I'm proud of them."