BABSON PARK, Mass. – Led by senior back Ben Lewis (West Hartford, Conn.), the fifth-seeded MIT Engineers shut out third-seeded Springfield College, 2-0, to earn the program's first-ever New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship title at Babson on Sunday afternoon. Along with the league title, the Engineers (13-4-2) received an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Tournament – marking the program's third national tourney appearance and first since 2008.
As a result of his impressive performances in Sunday's victory and Saturday's 2-2 double-overtime tie with top-seeded Babson, Lewis was selected as the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Among his many key plays in the title game was a goal-saving block on a shot that would have given the Pride a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes in.
Kevin Nowak had one of the Pride's best chances of the day in the eighth minute, when he beat charging freshman keeper Jake Amereno (Commack, N.Y.) to a loose ball near the top of the box, made a move around the diving goalie, and fired a shot toward the open net. However, Lewis raced back and blocked the would-be goal, and the defense was able to clear the loose ball beyond the end line to keep the contest scoreless.
That play would prove pivotal later in the period, as MIT rattled off two straight goals in a four-minute stretch to take control of the game. The first came in the 22nd minute, when freshman Sean Bingham (Garden City, N.Y.) took a nice feed from sophomore Nick Diamantoni (Belle Mead, N.J.) near the top of the box, took one touch, and chipped a shot over Springfield goalie Billy Schmid and in for his team-leading 15th goal of the season. Just three and a half minutes later, Diamantoni again sparked the Engineers' offense, as his long cross from the left side was one-timed back toward the 22-yard bubble by junior Tyler Singer-Clark (Falmouth, Mass.). That pass was then settled by junior Jonathan Tebes (Handen, Conn.), who blasted a shot into the upper right corner for his third marker of the fall and a 2-0 MIT lead in the 25th minute.
The Engineers received another goal-saving play from its defense with a little over seven minutes left in the first half, this time by Amereno. Springfield's Drew Vanasse drilled a long free kick from midfield that glanced off the head of leaping sophomore Andrew Young (Livingston, N.J.) and toward the upper right corner, but the Engineers' rookie keeper made a spectacular diving grab to preserve the shutout.
MIT nearly made it 3-0 just one minute into the second half, when Schmid's attempted clear from 18 yards out was intercepted by Diamantoni. However, the sophomore midfielder's shot over the recovering goalkeeper sailed just over the crossbar.
From that point on, the contest would belong to the Engineers' defense, which did not allow a single shot on net in the entire second half. In addition to his lone official save that came in the first half, Amereno made several outstanding plays in net for MIT, intercepting numerous crosses deep in the box and making a key deflection of a highly-dangerous corner kick by Springfield at the 73-minute mark. At the other end, Schmid finished with two saves in defeat for Springfield.
Release courtesy of Babson College Sports Information.