MEDFORD, Mass. — The Colby College men’s soccer team will compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals for the first time in program history after advancing past second-ranked Tufts in penalty kicks during Sunday’s quarterfinal game.
The game will go down in the record books as a 0-0 tie. The penalty kicks were needed because one team had to advance in tournament play.
#NESCAC Championships continue today in Field Hockey, Men’s Soccer & Women’s Soccer
— NESCAC (@NESCAC) October 28, 2018
The Mules (7-6-3 overall), the eighth seed under head coach Ewan Seabrook, will play at fourth-seeded Amherst College next Saturday in a semifinal game at 11 a.m. Amherst will host the championship weekend after the top three seeds all lost. Since the NESCAC started a playoff system in 2000, there has never been a semifinal and championship round without at least one of the top three seeds. Hamilton College, ranked seventh, will meet sixth-seeded Williams College in the other semifinal at 1:30 p.m.
Mules loving the penalty kicks
Colby battled hard during regulation and overtime to keep the Jumbos (13-0-3) off the scoreboard. A penalty kick shootout was welcome at that point.
“I was very confident heading into the shootout,” Colby’s David Howarth said. “The pressure was entirely on Tufts with them being the one seed and it was obvious that their confidence was shaken after missing some good chances throughout the game. We also had practiced PK’s the two days prior to the game and everyone was able to hit a good PK, so I knew that whichever shooters Ewan picked could make it.”
— Colby Athletics (@themules) October 28, 2018
The Jumbos shot first and went up 1-0, though Colby goalkeeper Matt Johnson did guess correctly on his dive. Johnson came in for the shootout after Dan Carlson made 10 saves during regulation and overtime play.
“We had practiced penalty kicks this week and (Johnson) looked very strong,” Seabrook said. “Dan and Matt Morin are also very good at PK’s. I just had a hunch he would definitely save at least one.”
The Mules’ Cam Clouse went left on his shot as the Tufts goalkeeper guessed he would go right.
“I was just thinking that I need to hit it hard and on frame in order to score and I picked a side beforehand,” Clouse said. “I’m glad it paid off because the effort this team put in for 110 minutes was unbelievable.”
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The first break of the shootout came when the Jumbos’ second shooter went wide left with his kick. Howarth nailed a penalty kick in a win over Wesleyan University earlier this year and looked comfortable going to the right corner on his make against Tufts. He had good pace on his shot.
Johnson went all out to his right to save the third shot by Tufts and suddenly Colby’s chances of advancing looked good. Lucas Pereira nailed his PK for Colby into the upper right corner for a 3-1 lead.
Two Colby alums on different sides of the World Series, Brian O’Halloran ’03, the Assistant General Manager of the Red Sox, and Galen Carr ’97, Director of Player Personnel for the Los Angeles Dodgers, took this photo at Fenway Park before the start of Game 2 last night. pic.twitter.com/hDNBTl4SNx
— Colby College (@ColbyCollege) October 25, 2018
Tufts made it interesting by scoring on its fourth chance for a 3-2 Mule margin. After Colby missed on the fourth opportunity, the fifth shooter for Tufts tried to go to the left corner only to have Johnson sprawl out again with the save.
For the 11 Colby seniors, it meant another week of practice and a shot at a NESCAC title.
“The seniors have been together through a lot in our four years here. The highs and lows we experienced throughout our careers as well as this season helped us to become as close as we are,” Howarth said. “The 11 seniors along with all of the underclassmen truly love each other and think of everyone in the program as their brothers. I’m so grateful to be able to able to share this experience with this group of lads.”
By the numbers
– The Jumbos had a 39-11 shot advantage, but only 10 shots were on goal.
– Tufts made the NCAA quarterfinal round last year before losing to Brandeis University in overtime. The Jumbos won the national championship two years ago.