October 30, 2010

MIT, Wheaton Battle to 1-1 Tie

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men's soccer regular-season finale, MIT and Wheaton College emerged with a 1-1 draw on Saturday. The Engineers, ranked No. 7 in the NCAA New England regional poll, saw their ledger move to 10-2-2 overall and 4-0-2 in the conference while the Lyons' record shifted to 10-5-3 on the year and 3-2-2 in the NEWMAC.

MIT and Wheaton, seeded No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, for the NEWMAC Championship Tournament will have a rematch Saturday, Nov. 6 in the semifinal round hosted by Babson College. With the kickoff slated for 1:30 p.m., the setting is a repeat of their 2008 semifinal joust which the Engineers won, 2-1.

The first half was a defensive battle that featured up-tempo play by both sides. The Lyons managed to get the first shots off but it was the Engineers who opened the scoring. In the 23rd minute, Christian Therkelsen sent his corner kick from the near side into the box and connected with a sprinting Zachary Kabelac who quickly redirected the ball with the inside of his right foot just inside the near post.

MIT had a chance to extend its lead six minutes later as Therkelsen placed a threatening corner kick into the box but no one was able to connect with ball. The Cardinal and Gray held on to its slim lead through the intermission.

Wheaton found its rhythm in the second stanza as it outshot the hosts, 12-1, and held a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks. Just over 10 minutes into the frame, a throughball by the Lyons' drew MIT goalie Dylan Rankin out of the net. Will Nesbitt corralled the pass, and facing only Rankin, unleashed a shot from the top of the box. Rankin's outstretched arm deflected the point-blank strike and preserved the shutout.

The visitors broke through in the 72nd minute when David Turina's clearing attempt sailed downfield as its ensuing bounce was misplayed by MIT's defense and forced Rankin to leave his line. Cecil Jeffrey beat Rankin to the ball, jumped up and was able to get just enough of his head on it for the open-net equalizer.

Wheaton nearly registered the go-ahead goal several times during the final 12 minutes. A blast by Josh Solomon was turned away courtesy of Rankin's diving save. On the following corner kick, Jeffrey's header sailed over the crossbar. The Lyons' next opportunity came with 1:20 remaining in regulation when Yuri Moreira was faced with an open net, but his shot grazed the outside of the net.

Jeffrey continued to power Wheaton's attack during the first extra session, but his first shot was just off the mark while his second was blocked by an MIT defender. Less than 30 seconds into the second overtime period, Jeffrey found an open Moreira, however his redirect was wide.

The Engineers' best chance to score the game-winning goal came with 1:24 left to play on Kabelac's line-drive boot that was punched out by Wheaton netminder Chris Smart. Max Stein-Golenbock collected the rebound but his shot was wide.

Rankin finished the day with four saves for the Engineers while Smart picked up three for the Lyons.