Men's Soccer Drops AMCC Championship in Penalties

Men's Soccer Drops AMCC Championship in Penalties

ERIE, Pa. – The top-seeded Penn State Behrend men's soccer team fell 5-4 to Medaille in penalty kicks in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) Championship game on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions (15-4-1) and the Mavericks (14-5-1) battled to a 1-all tie through regulation and two overtime sudden death periods to force penalty kicks to determine the winner of the conference championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Medaille scored the lone goal of the first half in the 36th minute. Sophomore Anthony Marafioti dribbled the ball down the right sideline, making his way past the Lions' defense. After arriving in Behrend's defense third of the field, he slipped a pass into the box to find Given Holy Gbode for a one-time finish, giving the Mavericks a 1-0 lead for the remainder of the half.

The Lions controlled the play the entire second half, starting with a goal in the opening 1:17. Matt Dziadosz (Leechburg, PA/Kiski Area) was fouled in the box and was awarded a shot from the penalty spot. He took advantage of the opportunity by putting the ball in the corner of the net to tie the game at 1-all. Behrend continued to add chances throughout the second, outshooting Medaille 11-0.

One of the best opportunities came from a Dziadosz cross to Dakota Lange (Apollo, PA/Kiski Area). Lange battled his way far post and headed the ball from point-blank range, but goalkeeper Callum Christie was there to make the save for the Mavericks.

As the seconds were ticking down, Aaron Harris (Washington, PA/McGuffey) looked to take the game into his own hands. Harris collected the ball just outside the 18-yard box and rifled a shot off the cross bar. Christian Eckberg (Norwin, PA/Norwin) gathered the rebound and let off a shot of his own, but the ball went wide of the net to end regulation.

The Lions maintained majority of control and possession throughout overtime, registering three shots while holding Medaille shot-less. Neither team was able to find a goal, forcing the championship match to be decided by a penalty shootout.

Medaille's Mitchell Ali stepped up first in the shootout. As he was approaching the ball, goalkeeper Chris Ralph (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) remained light on his toes to help him get a good jump to make the save. Dziadosz was the first shooter for the Lions, and rang his shot off the post to keep the contest even. After a Mavericks make, Ryan Maurer (Cranberry Twp, PA/Seneca Valley) walked up and buried his shot in the top corner of the net. Sophomore James Young (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) was next for Behrend, shooting the ball to the right side, but Callum was able to make the diving save to give them a 2-1 lead. In the fourth round, Juan Montoya was given an opportunity to lengthen the lead, but missed his shot wide of the net. Nick Schwarzel (South Park, PA/South Park) evened the score by releasing a shot in the top right corner.

Richard Blanchard (Erie, PA/Cathedral Prep) and Nick Kisiel (Erie, PA/Mercyhurst Prep) both converted on their PK's in the fifth and sixth round to keep the sudden death alive. In round seven, goalkeeper Callum slipped a shot just under the hand of Ralph to give the Mavericks a 5-4 edge. Callum turned his offense into defense after making the game-winning save on Andrew Mastovich (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) to end the game in seven sounds.

Ralph, Harris, and Dziadosz were named to the AMCC All-Tournament Team.

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