Randolph Center, VT -
The VTC men's soccer team played to a 1-1 tie after two Golden Goal overtime periods on Sunday on their home field against conference opponent Southern Maine Community College. The match followed a frustrating loss the previous day when the team could generate few meaningful scoring opportunities. "Today was different" said VTC Coach Murawski. "We made some position adjustments, and at the players' urging discarded my own tendency to start conservatively, and for the first time this season the solid work of our backs and midfielders was carried forward with an effective attack. Southern Maine is a strong team, and we can feel very good about this result and our prospects ahead."
The Sea Wolves swarmed the Knights on the initial kickoff, generating a goal scoring opportunity for themselves in the opening seconds and setting the tone for the rest of the match. The Knights responded in kind immediately, and a battle of two determined squads was underway. The Sea Wolves managed 12 shots in the first half to the Knights 4, but the Knight's attempts were all quality threats, and the stats don't represent the equality of the two opponents. The Knight's entire back line, organized by centers Xavier Robitaille and Andy Ruddell, were outstanding. An apparent goal by Dave Mattern on a header from a direct kick from Phil Hepburn was called back for an offside offense, and the half ended scoreless.
The second half saw more quality defending by the Knights, and as the Knights grew increasingly comfortable in what were, 45 minutes prior, new positions for a couple key players, the number of successful attacks increased. VTC doubled their shots taken compared to first half. But the Sea Wolves stayed aggressive themselves, and Hanssen Casey scored an unassisted goal in the 70th minute. Unfazed, the increasingly confident Knights responded five minutes later when high-pressing right back Scott Shepherd had a rip at goal from 22 yards and midfielder Scott Durkee redirected it to the back of the net. Regulation play ended 1-1, with twenty minutes of golden goal overtime to come.
It was much of the same through a scoreless first OT period. Momentum shifted markedly to the Knights for the final OT period. Midfielders Phil Hepburn and Ryan Bellandese served balls effectively forward, and Strikers Dave Mattern and Mikell McKenzie combined nicely to create scoring opportunities. The Knights outside midies and backs continued to join the attack. VTC had three shots and two corner kicks in the final 10-minute OT period. The Sea Wolves were resilient though, and ultimately turned them all away, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes.
The Knights return to their home field Wednesday for a conference match against defending champions NHTI at 4:30pm.