Oneonta, NY --- WPI's defense was brilliant as the Engineers tied No. 6 SUNY Oneonta before the hosts advanced following the sixth round of penalty kicks in the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship first round Saturday morning. The Red Dragons (15-1-3) will face the winner of today's second game between Rochester and Conn. College tomorrow at 1pm.
Junior Spencer Ralphs (Simsbury, CT) narrowly put the Engineers on the board in the fifth minute but the ball was corralled by junior Nicholas Giordano (East Northport, NY). Early in the 28th minute, junior Justin Cebollero (Commack, NY) fired a shot that was easily handled by senior Connor Hoeckele (Granby, CT).
After the first intermission, Hoeckele leaped to make a grab on a high shot by freshman Roberto Ventura (Brentwood, NY) high at 51:59. Senior Brendan Nemes (Kingston, MA) had a clean look from the top center of the box only to be foiled by Giordano 45 seconds later.
During a flurry of action in front of Hoeckele in the 77th minute, sophomore Luke Reiniger (Rowley, MA) made a crucial team save at 76:25. Nemes later nicked the left post with a great chance from outside the box in the 81st minute. Hockele came up huge in at 107:49 when he got his hand on the ball during a diving save.
"We gave the top team in the New York Region everything they could handle today," said WPI Head Coach Brian Kelley. "With a little more good fortune we could have advanced."
Each team posted six shots with two on goal in the first half while the hosts went on to claim a 23-11 margin, including 8-4 on-goal.
WPI, the 10th-ranked team in the United Soccer Coaches regional poll, concludes its season with a 13-5-3 record.
Kelley continued, "It was a tremendous season for WPI soccer. The leadership from our seniors, and particularly our captains, made it the best season since the early 90's."