Men’s soccer advances to PL semifinal with wins at Army and Boston

Elise Covert, Staff Writer

A strong first half pushed the Bison men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory in their final regular season game at Army West Point on Nov. 5. The match was a must-win situation for the Orange and Blue who needed a win to earn a Patriot League postseason bid for the fifth consecutive season.

The Bison got on the board early with a goal by Seb Blickman ’17 just 22 seconds into the game, the second earliest goal in program history. Blickman’s tally marked his 10th goal of the season, off of a strong cross from the left side from Austin Lenart ’17.

The Orange and Blue extended their lead 2-0 with a goal from Patrick Mahoney ’20 less than a minute before halftime. The goal was assisted by a free kick from Andrew Leischner ’17.

Army applied consistent pressure in the second half, putting up 15 shots and five corner kicks in the period. They cut the lead to 2-1 in the 82nd minute, but goalkeeper Ryan Ott ’19 recorded six saves in the contest to secure the win, including a huge save with only two minutes remaining to maintain the lead.

“The team worked hard and followed the game plan to take the 2-0 lead. In the second half it was more of a test of our character,” head coach Brendan Nash said. “We knew Army was going to play with desperation to try to get back in the game … but our team stick together and was able to hold them off,” Nash said.

With the victory, the Bison improved their regular season record to 7-10-2 overall and 4-4-1 in Patriot League Play. Their 13 points in the conference was enough to secure them the No. 5 seed in the Patriot League tournament, and the win bumped Army down to the number six seed.

The Orange and Blue traveled to No. 4 Boston University on Nov. 8 for their Patriot League quarterfinal. The Bison got on the scoreboard first with a goal in the 29th minute from Quinn Bredin ’20, assisted by Blickman and Adam Bradshaw ’17. It was Bredin’s first goal in his collegiate soccer career.

However, the Terriers evened the score in the 79th minute, after applying much sustained pressure on the Bison defense during the second half. Lenart had a great chance to reclaim the lead for the Bison in the 85th minute, but just missed the net on a booming shot from close range.

The match entered extra time locked in a 1-1 tie. 110 minutes weren’t enough to decide the victor, so the game went into penalty shots. After Blickman converted his penalty straight down the middle past the Boston goalie, Bison keeper Ott made a crucial diving save on the Terriers’ first kick. Lenart and Tyler Peterson ’19 also converted their kicks, giving the Bison a 3-1 lead.

After a Boston player’s shot hit the crossbar and stayed out, Zack Rockmore ’17 scored to secure the 4-1 advantage for the Orange and Blue, solidifying the win. It was the seventh time in program history that the Bison had a Patriot League playoff game decided by penalty kicks.

Though the Terriers pounded the Bison in shots, taking the advantage 29-19, Ott came up with five big saves to lead the team to the victory.

“The key to our win was definitely the communication on the field. We knew going into the game that we needed to be on the same page if we were going to get a result,” Ott said. “Given the No. 5 seed going into the tournament, I’m sure people have their doubts. This win was a huge confidence booster for us, and we’re looking to take this momentum into our game Friday against American,” Ott said.

The Orange and Blue have now made the Patriot League playoffs five years in a row and have won four championships in the past 10 seasons, including a win in 2014 as the No. 5 seed. The Bison will face top-seeded American University in the semifinal game on Nov. 11, looking to extend this year’s success.

“We always focus on working as hard as an individual and as a team. If the team does that we know better than any team what can happen during the playoffs,” Nash said.

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