BUFFALO, Ny. – Dakota Lange (Apollo, PA/Kiski Area) scores the game-winning goal 13:33 minutes into the match to defeat Medaille 1-0. With the win, Behrend secured the regular-season championship and rights to host a semi-final match next Wednesday.
The Lions (14-4, 9-0 AMCC) moved from 10th to 8th in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Great Lakes Region poll. Behrend has won 11 of the last 12 matches, outscoring opponents 29-6 including six shutouts, all while remaining undefeated in conference play.
In today's battle for the first-place seed in playoffs, Behrend and Medaille both got off to a quick start with scoring opportunities. Just over five minutes into the match, junior captain Nick McKee (Bridgeville, PA/South Fayette) fired a shot on target in hopes of giving the Lions an early lead, but goalkeeper Callum Christie was able to make the save.
The Mavericks (12-5, 7-2 AMCC) marched down the field and retaliated with a pair of shots of their own. Holy Gbode gave Medaille its first scoring chance of the match after rifling a shot wide of the net. Two more shots were created by the Mavericks' players, but both sailed wide to keep the game scoreless.
Less than a minute after the Medaille opportunity, Aaron Harris (Washington, PA/McGuffey) and Lange generated a chance of their own. Harris saw Lange making a run down the left-side and played a well-weighted through ball to him into space. Once he received the ball, he fired a left-footed shot just inside the near post for his first goal of the season, giving Behrend a 1-0 lead.
The Lions continued to give high pressure on the Mavericks with the offensive help of Andrew Mastovich (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) and Harris. Mastovich was able to track down a ball from a free kick and head it on target but the shot was turned away by Christie. Harris tried adding to the lead after releasing a shot from the top of the box but the shot went left of the net for a Medaille goal kick.
Medaille, relentless on coming back, recorded the next six shots of the match. The best opportunity coming from a one-on-one opportunity between Lachlan Wilkinson and goalkeeper Chris Ralph (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional). Wilkinson got behind the Behrend defense and let off a shot that Ralph got a hand on to send the ball off the crossbar. Ralph was able to find the ball and corral it to maintain the 1-0 lead going into halftime. Medaille had a 10-5 shot advantage over Behrend at the end of the first.
One of the few scoring chances in the second didn't come until the 58th minute from a Behrend foul. The Mavericks whipped a free kick into the box looking to even the score, but Ralph was there to make the grab.
For the remainder of the contest, Behrend's defense, led by senior captain Josh Kolarac (Imperial, PA/West Allegheny), held off Medaille from evening the score. Ralph recorded three saves in the match, and tallied his eighth shut-out of the year in the win.
Behrend will face the No. 4 seed Franciscan in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) semi-finals on November 1. Game time is set for 2 p.m.