Men’s Soccer Triumphs with 3-2 NECC-opening Win Over Wheelock

jess kelley controls the ball

BENNINGTON, Vt. – Southern Vermont College came back from being down 2-1 and used a goal with 1:07 left on the clock top Wheelock College 3-2 at Everett Field Saturday afternoon in the opening day of New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's soccer action.

SVC freshman Ray Awusi (Gaithersburg, Md.) took credit for the game winner as a shot glanced off his back side and changed directions to get past the WC keeper.

The Mountaineers scored first with a goal in the sixth minute, but the Wildcats would tie it up midway through the opening half for a 1-1 tally that would be brought into the break. The visitors went on top with a penalty kick in the 52nd minute—only to see SVC respond 38 seconds later with the equalizer.

With both overtime and darkness looming, Southern Vermont made a late push into the Wheelock end of the field. The ball was bounced around before junior Nikolas Joseph (Coventry, Conn.) hit a volley from the top-left edge of the box; it deflected off Awusi and skipped into the left side of the frame for the Mountaineers to celebrate what would end up being the decider.

Southern Vermont (2-7, 1-0 NECC) is next in action on Wednesday when the team hosts Vermont Technical College for a 4 p.m. kickoff at Everett. The Wildcats (0-6, 0-1 NECC) continue a Vermont weekend trip on Sunday with a 1 p.m. start at Green Mountain College.

The win helps the Mountaineers begin league play with a victory for the first time since 2011 when SVC defeated Regis College 5-2.

Freshman Jared Lacoste (Arlington, Vt.) and sophomore Lee Dennis (Chocorua, N.H.) each scored a goal for Southern Vermont while freshman goalie Dylan Berg (Tampa, Fla.) made three saves in the win (2-7).

Wheelock junior Matt Woolverton (Cumberland, Maine) notched the Wildcats' first goal of the game before freshman Patrick Gomes (Lisbon, Portugal) converted on his penalty opportunity. Senior netminder Jordan Bernard (Westbrook, Conn.) recorded five saves in the loss (0-6).

Lacoste was set up early in the game on a great crossing pass by former high school teammate Alex Paustian (Arlington, Vt.). Paustian ran down the left wing onto a through ball, and he hit it with his first touch across to the other side of the box; Lacoste sprinted on and slammed his fourth goal of the year into the top of the frame for the quick 1-0 upper hand.

Woolverton tied it up about 14 minutes later for the eventual 1-1 halftime score. The play started with a WC throw-in deep down the right touchline, and the ball was knocked around before sophomore Edwin Hernandez (San Salvador, El Salvador) headed it from the top of the penalty area; it went right to Woolverton who spun and hit it in the air with his right foot past Berg and into the right side of the net.

Almost seven minutes into the second stanza, the Wildcats took the upper hand after a Mountaineer defender was called for a foul in the penalty area. Gomes stepped up and hit his first goal of the year into the lower-left corner to make it a 2-1 edge.

Not to be deterred, Southern Vermont had a quick response to even the score once again. Freshman Nick Langat (Silver Spring, Md.) ran onto a through pass on the right side of the field and sent his first touch into the middle of the box; Dennis ran on and made a sliding shot into the back of the net as his second of the year tied it at 2-2.

That score stood for the next 37 minutes as both teams searched for the go-ahead goal. The Mountaineers were able to find it to collect their second one-score win in three days as Joseph's shot went off Awusi and into the frame before the hosts mobbed the freshman. Wheelock launched the ensuing kickoff deep into SVC territory, but a Mountaineer headed it back into Berg's hands as Southern Vermont wore out the clock.