After 109 minutes of play in the NCAA quarterfinals the Trinity men’s soccer team found themselves in the final minute of the second overtime period.
The second ranked Tigers were unable to find the back of the net with their five shots on the match, and it would be the host team, the Lord Jeffs’ of Amherst College, who scored the lone goal of the match to advance with a 1-0 victory to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. The match was a true clash of styles.
The Tigers favored a more possession-oriented game whereas the Lord Jeffs or Amherst College relied on long, direct balls forward and a more agricultural or straightforward attacking style.
The Tigers did lots of defending for the regulation period and in the overtime periods that followed. Eventually, Amherst’s attacking runs and shots into the Tigers’ defensive end, in addition to their significant size advantage, with five starting players who were 6’3″ or taller, proved to be a largest difference in the final minutes.
In the final minute of play, the ball was thrown into the six-yard box right to the feet of senior forward Nico Pasqual-Leone who prodded the ball past senior keeper Chad Margotta into the goal.
Margotta saved the Tigers on many previous occasions, notching five saves in what would be the final match of his collegiate career.
With this final game, Margotta reached a total of 89 saves. This is the most saves in a single season for a Tiger goalkeeper since 1995, and he allowed nine goals over the course of 25 games and posting a 0.36 goals-against average.
Earlier in the match, sophomore defender Brent Mandelkorn struck the crossbar with a left-footed drive in the first half, while senior Derrick Horvath and sophomore Danny Ruano also tested the Amherst goalkeeper, Thomas Bull, with shots of their own.
First-year standout Christian Sakshaug had two decisive attempts on goal, both of which were stopped by the Amherst keeper to force the game into extra time.
The Tigers reached the quarterfinal match by defeating the top nationally ranked, Brandeis University with a resounding 2-0 shutout. Sakshaug finished his ninth goal of the season to put the Tigers on the scoreboard early in the 10th minute of play. Just before the halftime whistle, fellow freshman striker Austin Michaelis delivered his fifth goal of the season to cushion the Tigers lead.
On the defensive end, the Tigers led in the back by senior captain Tom Carwile, thwarted numerous offensive runs by Brandeis and Margotta prevented all five shots on goal from finding the back of the net to preserve the shutout. This would prove to be the Tiger’s 14th and final shutout of the 2015 fall campaign. Reflecting on his collegiate career and his team’s performance this season, Margotta stated, “This has been my favorite season of my career because the brotherhood that comes with being a part of this team is second to nothing else.”
Carwile and Horvath echoed Margotta’s feelings about the team and the season. “Although it was my last season at Trinity, I think that made it the best. Every practice, game and travel trip was cherished more because I knew it would be my last year participating in this amazing program,” reflected Carwile. He also added that, “During the NCAAs, I felt blessed I was still able to play the game that I love and enjoy more time with this team.”
“We started out as just a group of very, very talented, individual soccer players. We became a real TEAM and group of brothers that I would do anything for in the future,” reflected Carwile. Margotta also added that “over the course of the season, our players really adapted into their roles, making us a better team overall.”
On a personal note, Horvath shared that he enjoyed “playing a bigger role personally for the team this year” and that he, “really enjoyed the group of guys I got to play with this year for my senior season.”
Trinity completed its season with a 22-3-0 record, falling just shy of a trip to the Final Four in Kansas City. It was a tough defeat for the Tiger men, who fell at the Elite 8 stage for the third year in a row, all in one-goal differential games.