Men’s soccer reaches league final, but falls

MEDFORD, Mass. — Top-seeded host Tufts edged the No. 5 Middlebury College men’s soccer team, 1-0, in the NESCAC championship game.
Tufts improved to 15-1-2 and earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.
The 12-6 Panthers, who had upset the Nos. 4 and 3 seeds in overtime to reach the NESCAC final, were left waiting until Monday afternoon to learn if they will receive an at-large NCAA bid.
If forthcoming, that bid would extend retiring Coach David Saward’s lengthy and successful career at Middlebury. Saward won his 350th game at the college earlier this season, and his résumé includes the 2007 NCAA title and three NESCAC playoff championships.
The Panthers do have more wins than any other NESCAC team other than Tufts, and they are undefeated outside of league play. Other league teams that have more ties included in their records this fall and have better winning percentages. The selection committee will consider strength of play and late-season performance as well as several other factors.
In Sunday’s final Tufts’ Brett Rojas scored the winning goal with three minutes left in regulation, with an assist from Zach Lane.
Tufts held advantages in shots at goal, 16-8, and corner kicks. Only Daniel O’Grady and Kyle Moffat landed shots on goal for the Panthers. Middlebury goalie Jeremy Yeager stopped three shots, and Jumbo goalie Connor Mieth made two saves.
On Saturday the Panthers defeated third-seeded Bowdoin in double-overtime, 1-0, on an unassisted Drew Goulart goal with 4:26 gone in the second extra period.
Goulart carved out space near the far edge of the Bowdoin box and drilled a 28-yard shot into the upper far corner to settle matters in a defensive battle.
Bowdoin had a few more chances, although the 10-4-3 Polar Bears had only an 8-7 edge in shots on goal. Goulart created the best Panther opportunities in regulation, a threatening first-half direct kick and a second-half shot on net.
Yeager finished with two saves to record his 10th shutout of the season, and Bowdoin goalie Stevie Van Siclen made one save.

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