Men’s soccer falls in NCAA sectional final

AMHERST, Mass. — The Middlebury College men’s soccer team rallied to win its first-round NCAA Division III Sectional game on Saturday, 2-1, over John Carroll University, but host Amherst held off the Panthers in Sunday’s Sectional final, 1-0.

The Mammoths will head to this weekend’s Final Four with a 16-2-2 record, while Coach Alex Elias’ Panthers finished with a 13-5-3 mark that included three NCAA tournament victories.

In Saturday’s game vs. Ohio’s John Carroll, the Panthers fell behind in the final seconds of the first half when Will Turritin’s 30-yard free kick deflected past Middlebury goalie Ryan Grady off a defender’s head.

Panther Jordan St. Louis tied the game in the seventh minute of the second half. After a scramble in the box following a corner kick, Liam Sloan collected the ball and fed Saint-Louis on the left side. Saint-Louis took a few touches before burying a shot in the far corner.

Middlebury’s Aiden Pape netted the game-winner at 71:59 with a diving header. Saint-Louis beat a defender on the right side and served to Pape in the box. Pape dove toward the goal and redirecting the ball into the bottom right corner.

John Carroll had a good chance to tie the contest in the 83rd minute, but Grady snared Michael Burrington’s header for his only save of the game. Middlebury held advantages in shots (14-8) and corner kicks (10-3). Goalie Connor Robinson stopped four shots for the Blue Streaks.

On Sunday, the Panthers again fell behind late in the first half, but were unable to find the net after the break despite carrying play over the final 40 minutes.

Middlebury had a good opportunity in the game’s 13th minute, when Ben Powers set up Brandon Reid on the left side of the Mammoth box. Reid fired a low shot that Amherst goalie Kofi Hope-Gund stopped and covered before Brendan Barry could get a foot on the rebound.

Grady made his best save with 18:20 remaining in the half, robbing the Mammoths on a two-on-one. Ada Okorogheye had a clear shot from the left side that Grady kicked away. Grady later made a leaping stop on a rising bid from Jonny Novak.

But Grady could not stop German Giammattei with 1:43 left in the half. Giammattei collected a long pass and beat a defender before sliding a low shot home for the lead.

In the second frame, Saint-Louis threatened early, but Hope-Gund steered his bid from close range over the net. Hope-Gund also denied Reid from the right side of the box in the 61st minute, Andrew Juarez shot just wide in the 70th minute, and Hope-Gund shortly afterward tipped another Juarez blast over the bar.

The Panthers outshot the Mammoths by 8-0 in the second half and 14-12 overall, and held a 9-3 edge in corner kicks. Hope-Gund made nine saves, and Grady stopped five shots.

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