NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The inaugural meeting between the Norwich University men's soccer team and Maine Maritime Academy will be tough to top in terms of excitement for future games.
The two sides played to a 110-minute double-overtime 2-2 tie that featured plenty of end-to-end offensive action, including three golden opportunities to win the game in the final six minutes of the second overtime.
After falling behind 2-0, Norwich (1-0-3, 0-0-1 GNAC) came storming back with a goal late in the first half by sophomore Matt Bento (Brookfield, Conn.) and then another early in the second half by freshman Bienfait Badibanga (Burlington, Vt.) to salvage its third tie in its first four games of the season.
Bento scored on a pretty crossing pass from the left by Eric Badibanga (Burlington, Vt.) with a side volley into the top right corner of the net in an early candidate for goal of the season. The goal was his second of the season and cut Maine Maritime's lead in half at the 37:50 mark.
Eric's brother, Bienfait Badabinga scored his first collegiate goal off a header on a free-kick service from Amerle Nemeye (Burlington, Vt.). Nemeye curled a pass in from 30 yards out that Bienfait was first to on the far post and headed into the back of the net to knot the game at 2-2 at the 51:42 mark.
Maine Maritime (0-2-1, 0-0-0 NAC) opened the scoring at the 18:22 mark with Evan Backus scoring on a one-touch redirection on a feed from the right by Matthew Caron. NU starting goalkeeper Brendan Germano (Monroe Township, N.J.) got a piece of the ball with his gloves but not enough to push it away as the ball bounced off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net to give the Mariners the early lead and their first goal of the season.
Just under four minutes later Jeremy Spiegel scored on a header off a throw in from the right side of the field by Caron to put the Mariners up 2-0 and shock the Cadets' home crowd.
In overtime, Maine Maritime had two golden chances to win the game but Dalton Moore was robbed by Germano coming off his line to kick an initial shot away. The rebound was gathered up by Caron and he took a bid at the wide open net but Noah Cook (Oakdale, Conn.) was able to knock the ball off the line for the team save to keep the Cadets in it.
With just under a minute to go in the second overtime, Norwich had its golden opportunity to win the game, but Matt Hilton was robbed by Joshua Reeks diving across the goal to punch a one-touch volley away from the net and leave NU stunned.
Reeks made 10 saves in goal for the Mariners, while Germano had five for Norwich, including three in the second overtime session.
Norwich outshot Maine Maritime 33-16 for the game, including a 13-3 edge in the second half where they possessed the ball and pressured for nearly the entire 45 minutes.
Maine Maritime will take on SUNY Maritime at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium. Norwich will then host SUNY Maritime on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. to close the weekend.