Panther men’s soccer advances in NCAA tourney

LANCASTER, Pa. — The Middlebury College men’s soccer team won an NCAA Division III Regional this past weekend and will compete this coming weekend for a chance to advance to the tournament’s final four. The 12-4-3 Panthers will head to familiar ground — NESCAC rival Amherst College will host the Sectional at which they will compete.

Middlebury will take on John Carroll University (14-3-2) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, after host Amherst (14-2-2) faces SUNY-Cortland (18-2-1) at 11 a.m. The winners will meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday, with the victor advancing to the final four in Greensboro, N.C., on Dec. 3 and 4.

This past weekend the Panthers opened on Saturday by defeating SUNY-Oneonta, 1-0. A Shane Farrell goal with 3:05 remaining was the game-winner.

Farrell’s goal came in transition after the most dramatic of Panther goalie Ryan Grady’s five saves. Oneonta capitalized on a Panther turnover at midfield to set up Jeremy Pantoni at the top of the Middlebury box. Pantoni turned and rifled a shot on goal, but Grady dove to his left to knock the shot away at 86:36.

The Panthers countered quickly and sent the ball to Andrew Juarez just over midfield, and he carried it down the left side. Juarez split the Red Dragons’ defense with a pass to Jordan Saint-Louis at the left corner of the Oneonta box. Saint-Louis beat one defender and then laid the ball back across the goal. Farrell ran onto the service and one-timed it home for the game’s only goal.

Nate Hanna made six saves for Oneonta, which finished 10-4-3.

On Sunday the Panthers outplayed fourth-ranked host Franklin & Marshall (15-4-1) in a 2-0 victory in the Regional final.

The Panthers struck at 29:29 with a Ben Powers goal after a corner kick. Casey Lund gathered a loose ball on the right and bent a cross that Powers tucked under the crossbar and just past the fingertips of Diplomat goalie Sam Altman Farrell.

Nearly 10 minutes later, Grady made his only save of the half on a header from Kane Feudtner.

Shortly after halftime the Panthers doubled their lead at 49:27 when Saint-Louis scored with an assist from Brendan Barry. Saint-Louis’s goal was his team-best seventh.

Franklin & Marshall looked to cut the deficit late in the match, but Grady made a diving stop to his right on a penalty kick attempt by A.J. Kopacz with 1:55 left to preserve the shutout.

That was Grady’s second and final save on the day and gave him 12 shutouts this fall, moving him into a tie for second on Middlebury’s single-season list. He remains in the top-10 in Division III in goals-against average (0.35) and save percentage (.897). Altman Farrell made nine saves for the Diplomats.

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