Sports

Men’s soccer advances on penalty kicks

NEW LONDON, Conn. — The sixth-seeded Middlebury College men’s soccer team advanced to this weekend’s NESCAC playoff final four at Amherst after getting past host No. 3 Connecticut on penalty kicks, 4-3, following a scoreless quarterfinal match.
Back-up goalie Marco Kaper made the key save for the Panthers, and Liam Sloan knocked in the decisive penalty kick. 
The 7-2-7 Panthers will take on host No. 1 Amherst (14-0-2) at 11 a.m. this Saturday. The two teams tied, 1-1, at Amherst this season. No. 4 Williams (8-3-5) squares off vs. No. 2 Tufts (12-2-2) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in the other Saturday match, also at Amherst, and the final will be played at Amherst at noon on Sunday.
On this past Saturday host  Connecticut (10-3-3) outshot the Panthers, 24-4, and earned an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks, but could not put a shot past goalies Ryan Grady (three saves in 53:15) or Kaper (three saves in 56:45).
Kaper came in when Grady was injured early in the second half; Grady’s status is uncertain for this coming weekend. Kaper’s best regulation save came in the late going, when he dove to rob Camel Matt Butera’s drive toward the lower left corner. AJ Marcucci made one regulation save for the Camels that came early in the first half.
In the shoot-out penalties by Ben Potter and Kieran Bhave staked Middlebury to a 2-1 lead after two kicks, while the hosts tied things at 2-2 heading into the fifth round. Panther Noah Hannam pushed a shot into the upper right corner off Marcucci’s hand to put the Panthers in front, but Augie Djerdjaj countered with a goal for Connecticut.
In sudden death, Sloan tucked a shot into the left corner for a 4-3 Middlebury edge, and then Kaper smothered Justin Miranda’s low bid to send the Panthers into the semifinals.

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