Cambridge, MA --- Franco Bazzini (San Juan, PR) turned from potential goat to hero in less than three minutes when he buried the game-winning goal in the fourth minute of overtime to deliver the WPI men's soccer team a thrilling road victory and the fifth and final spot in this week's NEWMAC Tournament by defeating MIT 2-1 on Saturday evening.
In a wild ending that saw the hosts force overtime with a goal late in the 84th minute, Bazzini was poised to punch WPI's postseason ticket when he drew a penalty kick just 44 seconds into the extra session. The junior, who was two-for-two this season on PKs, however missed high, prolonging the game. After MIT nearly broke through on the other end, Bazzini redeemed himself when he took a pass from Matt Dzwil (Boxford, MA), went down sideline and netted seventh goal of the season and sixth game-winner.
WPI's Engineers were forced into a win-and-in situation Saturday evening after Wheaton had defeated Clark 3-1 earlier Saturday afternoon. WPI, ranked fourth in the latest NCAA Division III Region II rankings, moves to 10-4-3 on the season and 3-2-2 in NEWMAC action. They will be the seeded fifth in this week's NEWMAC Tournament and will travel to fourth-seeded Coast Guard in a quarterfinal on Tuesday 7pm.
MIT, ranked sixth in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25, the top ranked team in Region II and the NEWMAC regular season championships, dip to 13-3-1 overall and 5-1-1 in conference play. Cambridge's Engineers will the top seed in the NEWMAC Tournament and will host the WPI-Coast Guard winner in a Thursday semifinal.
The WPI men's soccer squad started out hot with four quick shots until Filippo Marcantoni (Ponti sul Mincio, Italy) cleaned up a rebound from teammate Luke Savoie (Mansfield, MA) for the opening goal of the match in the 24th minute of play. The lead was maintained by the Crimson and Gray for the remaining minutes of the first half.
Marcantoni struck again in the first minute of the second stanza with a ball placed to the far side of the net with a dish from Francesco Valagussa (Arlington, MA). The hosting Engineers responded quickly for their first strike of the match after Peter Novoa (Omaha, NE) finished a cross from Rami Bikdash (Oak Ridge, NC) to get MIT on the board.
MIT tied play at 2-2 in 84th minute of play as Sebastian Simon's (Detroit, MI) ball was nearly saved by Roe Hendrick (Nashua, NH) but trickled passed the line to tie the contest. Valagussa had a clean look late in regulation but it was stop by MIT netminder Paarth Desai (Lawrenceville, GA), leading to an overtime battle of Engineers and setting the stage for Bazzini's heroics.
For the match, WPI had a 13-9 edge in shots and MIT held a 8-4 advantage in corner kicks. Roe has three stops in the winning effort while Desai was credited with four saves.