NEW LONDON, Conn. – The No. 7 Connecticut College men's soccer team was dealt a 1-0 setback by Hamilton in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Harkness Field.
With the victory, Hamilton advanced to next Saturday's semifinal round of the league's postseason tournament which will surprisingly be hosted by fourth-seeded Amherst. The Camels, who are currently second in the latest NCAA regional rankings which determine postseason qualification, will now put their fate in the hands of the NCAA Committee to receive a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Connecticut College (12-2-2) controlled play for most of the first half, outshooting the Continentals by a 10-4 margin and earning all seven of the match's corner kicks through 45 minutes of action. The Hamilton defense, however, blocked four shots in the opening 25 minutes, and freshman defender Luke Stoneback (Commerce, Mich.) had a pair of headers that went wide and were saved, respectively, by goalkeeper Thomas Benson to keep the Camels off the board. Sophomore AJ Marcucci (West Chester, Pa.) also turned away four shots unleashed by the Continentals at the other end to also keep the match scoreless.
The Camels also dominated play during the second half, but it was the seventh-seeded Continentals who proved to be the most opportunistic. The visitors broke through in the 58th minute when Roth Wetzel received a short pass from Aidan Wood at the top of the box and rifled a low shot to the left post that made its way past Marcucci.
Despite surrendering the match's first goal, Connecticut College continued to challenge the Hamilton defense and pummeled Benson between the pipes for more than 30 minutes. The Camels, who had a commanding 11-2 shot advantage the rest of the way, unleashed eight in less than eight minutes down the stretch. Senior Ben Manoogian (Peabody, Mass.) tried to provide late-game heroics, but he had two headers stopped by Benson, and another one-touch attempt with the back of his foot barely sailed wide right of the goal. One last desperation move by Liam Noonan (Calabasas, Calif.) was also blocked, and the Continentals were able to survive and advance to next weekend's semifinals at the site of the highest remaining seed.
Marcucci suffered the tough loss after making five saves for Connecticut College, which outshot its opponent by a commanding 21-7 margin and also had a lopsided 8-1 advantage in corner kick opportunities. Benson, meanwhile, picked up the victory between the posts by making eight saves for Hamilton (9-6-1).
Connecticut College will now wait for a possible bid to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. The selections will be announced on Monday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. EST.