MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State College men's soccer team defended their North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament title for a third consecutive year Sunday afternoon, defeating third seeded Keuka College by a 2-1 final decision in Morrisville to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
The Mustangs (16-3) will await seeding in the Division III tournament as announced by the NCAA tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. E.T. on NCAA.com. This will be Morrisville State's third straight trip to the tournament.
Keuka had a chance early on to put one on the board, as midfielder Rachid Blanken had a breakaway, but Mustang goalkeeper Eric Berglund (Elmira, N.Y.) came out to challenge and Blanken's shot sailed wide of the left post.
Midway through the half, Morrisville State's Kossi Philippe Nodjo (New York City, N.Y.) had a one versus goalie opportunity, but Willie Romero challenged and Nodjo's shot was just wide of the left post.
Keuka held the 10-8 advantage at the half in shots, but the play of both goalkeepers kept each attacking line from putting numbers on the board in the opening 45.
Morrisville State took advantage of a costly Keuka foul on the near sideline, and junior Ryan Houghtalen (Syracuse, N.Y.) sent the direct kick on a curve inside the upper right corner for the Mustangs first score of the afternoon, a strike that came from 45 yards out in the 55th minute.
Nearly seven minutes later, Keuka evened the contest on an own goal that deflected off a Mustang defender into the back of the net, knotting the game at one.
Morrisville State, who controlled much of the play in the second half, regained the lead with 23 minutes to go as Jamieson McKoy (Bassatterre, St. Kitts) chipped the ball forward into the box to a streaking Julian Rodriguez (Bronx, N.Y.) who then lifted it over a diving Romero for the go ahead score.
Keuka's best opportunity to net an equalizer in the remaining minutes came with just under 14 to go when leading scorer Paulin Kolodja had a step on the defense for a through ball, but once again Berglund spoiled the Wolves attempt as he came out to challenge and covered the ball to prevent the score.
Berglund made seven total saves on the day, including two point blank attempts by the Wolves, to secure the win and give Morrisville State their third straight title and appearance in the NCAA tourney.
The senior was named the 2016 NEAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, posting two wins (one shutout) behind his 11 total stops in tournament action.
Romero finished with five saves for the Keuka Wolves, who wrap up their season with a 12-4-3 overall record.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2016 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2016 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.