Men's Soccer Battles to Tough-fought 3-2 Home Win Over Johnson State

lee dennis dribbles the ball

BENNINGTON, Vt. – A nail-biting finish for the Mountaineer faithful saw their Southern Vermont College men's soccer team pick up a tight 3-2 win over Johnson State College Thursday afternoon at Everett Field in non-conference action.

SVC took control right away with a goal in the third minute of play, and a second for the hosts came just over the 18:00 mark to make it a 2-0 upper hand. The Badgers got one back later in the opening half, but Southern Vermont was able to extend the lead back to a pair just under three minutes before the break.

The 3-1 advantage stood until the 56th minute when Johnson State cut it down to a one-goal deficit. The final 34 minutes of regulation saw the visitors push for the equalizer—including an offensive attack in the last 60 seconds—to no avail as the Mountaineers kept their opponent out of the net to secure their first victory of the year.

Southern Vermont (1-7) is next in action on Saturday when the Mountaineers host Wheelock College for the start of New England Collegiate Conference action. Johnson State (5-3) returns to North Atlantic Conference play on Saturday with a 1 p.m. kickoff at home against Thomas College.

Thursday's match was highlighted by aggressive play which led to totals of 43 fouls, six cautions, and two penalty kicks.

SVC freshman Jared Lacoste (Arlington, Vt.) scored at the end of the first half for what proved to be the game winner. Sophomore captain Lee Dennis (Chocorua, N.H.) and freshman Nick Langat (Silver Spring, Md.) each notched their first goals of the year for the Mountaineers.

Southern Vermont freshman keeper Dylan Berg (Tampa, Fla.) picked up his first collegiate win (1-7) between the pipes after making a pair of saves on the day.

The Badgers' scoring was provided by senior captain Dominic Caforia (Waterbury, Vt.) who scored both of the visitors' goals. Sophomore goalie Marcus Holmes (Johnson, Vt.) made one save in net during the loss.

Dennis put Southern Vermont on the board quickly with his first collegiate score just 2:25 into the contest. Lacoste tried to play a pass in from the left side, but it was deflected away by a Badger defender; the ball would find the foot of the sophomore captain, however, and he let it fly from the right edge of the box into the lower-left part of the net.

Later in the half, a Southern Vermont throw-in from deep down the left touchline was whistled dead as a Badger was called for pushing a Mountaineer in the box. Langat stepped up and drilled the penalty into the same spot of the frame as Dennis for his team to go on top 2-0.

Johnson State ended the shutout in the 32nd minute by taking advantage of a misplayed clearing attempt by SVC. Caforia collected the ball, went one-on-one with Berg, and slotted it past the netminder for his eighth of the season.

The Mountaineers pushed the separation back to a pair late to bring a 3-1 lead into halftime. Freshman Zach Gilman (Farmington, N.H.) played a great pass through the pulled-up Badger defense and into space—allowing Lacoste to run on to it. Holmes, Lacoste, and a Johnson State defender came together at the loose ball and collided, but Lacoste was able to pick himself up, get there first, and lace a shot into the open net for his team-leading fourth of the campaign.

About 10 minutes after the intermission, Johnson State got within one on a penalty kick of its own. The Badgers used a free kick from midfield to work the ball into the box, and a pushing foul was called quickly-after. Caforia was selected to take the kick, and he converted into the lower-left corner of the goal for his ninth of the season.

That would be the last quality chance at net for either side as the rest of the game was a defensive struggle. Only one shot on goal would be recorded—that being a soft Langat lob from the top of the box that was caught by Holmes.

Instead, tension increased over the final 34 minutes with JSC being called for 12 fouls to SVC's six; the Badgers would also be issued three yellow cards as the frustration of trying to find the equalizer mounted. Johnson State made a late push and was able to get off a corner kick in the final minute, but Southern Vermont cleared it away to hold on for the victory.