Men’s Soccer: Amell’s late goal helps Cadets Shock Top-Seeded Albertus Magnus, 1-0
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sophomore midfielder Anthony Amell (Northfield, Vt.) scored with 2:08 left in the second half to lift the Norwich men's soccer team to a 1-0 upset win over top-seeded Albertus Magnus on Thursday in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Semifinals.
Amell crashed the goal after Eric Weir's (Ipswich, Mass.) initial strike was saved by Albertus Magnus goalkeeper Donato Piroscafo. The ball deflected right to Amell, who promptly deposited the ball into the right corner of the net before Piroscafo could recover after making the initial save.
Junior Garrett Shufelt (Clifton Park, N.Y.) created the opportunity by beating his man and making a run on the right wing. Shufelt crossed the ball to Weir near the top of the 18-yard-box and Weir hit a hard, low strike that Piroscafo couldn't hold onto which set up Amell's game-winning tally.
Norwich (11-8-0) advances to the GNAC championship for the first time since 2008 and is now 10-3 in its last 13 games. The Cadets will travel to No. 2 Saint Joseph's (Maine) after the Monks defeated Emmanuel (Mass) 4-1 in the other semifinal match on Thursday. Saint Joseph's (Maine) beat Norwich 2-1 on Sept. 10 in the two team's only meeting this season.
Although neither side scored until the 88th minute of the match, both teams had numerous quality scoring chances throughout the match.
Just moments into the match, Albertus Magnus' leading goal scorer Jamal Howard got through the Norwich defense and tried to beat Norwich freshman goalkeeper Christian Hallstrom (Las Vegas, Nev.) short side. However, Hallstrom jumped and pushed the ball away to stop the chance.
Norwich thought it had a goal in the 12th minute as Ryan Robertson (Northfield, Vt.) had the ball inside the 18, danced around a defender and took a shot that beat Piroscafo to his right. However, the officials ruled that Robertson played the ball with his hand, therefore nullifying the goal and keeping the match nil-nil.
The Cadets had another chance with just over 16 minutes to play in the first half when Chris Bristol (Clinton, Conn.) served a free kick into the penalty area that Wesley Keslin (Brossard, Quebec) got a head on and directed towards the goal, but Piroscafo smothered the ball along the turf without allowing a rebound.
Albertus Magnus turned up the pressure in the second half and nearly got a goal off a free kick by Stephen Zapata in the 57th minute. Zapata curled a shot over the Norwich defensive wall that looked to be headed just under the cross bar, but Hallstrom got a hand on it just in time to punch the ball away and keep the game scoreless.
Zapata had another opportunity a little over five minutes later after a Norwich defender committed a foul just outside the penalty area. However, Zapata, who leads all of Division III with 20 assists, miss hit the ball, and it was blocked by the wall of Norwich defenders.
Amell's goal was his second in as many matches and his fourth of the season. It also marked the second straight match that Norwich used late-game heroics to continue their GNAC playoff run. Shufelt scored in double overtime to punch the Cadets' ticket to the semifinal round with a 3-2 win over Lasell on Monday.
The loss was Albertus Magnus' first since Sept. 7. The Falcons ran the table in the GNAC with a perfect 10-0 league record and beat Mount Ida 2-0 in the GNAC Quarterfinals to advance to Thursday's match.
Albertus Magnus outshot Norwich 23-16 while the Cadets had eight corner kicks to the Falcon's six.
Hallstrom made seven saves to improve to 8-3 on the season. Piroscafo turned aside 10 shots for Albertus Magnus and was saddled with the loss.
The GNAC championship match is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament will be on the line. The Cadets have won four GNAC titles since joining the league in 1999 and will be looking to make their first trip back to the NCAA's since 2008 when NU beat Saint Joseph's (Maine) in the finals.
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