College Soccer: Middlebury Women, Men Both Bow Out of NCAA Play

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information


MIDDLEBURY — The ninth-ranked Middlebury women’s soccer team saw it early run through the NCAA Tournament came to a close on Sunday, as the Panthers (14-3-3) fell to visiting Stevens Institute of Technology 2-1 in a second-round match-up. The 18th-ranked Ducks (17-3-1) advance to next weekend’s sectional round. The hosts saw their 23-game unbeaten (18-0-5) dating back to the 2017 season halted, while Stevens extended their winning streak to 14 contests.

Stevens jumped out to an early lead, taking advantage of a direct kick in the Middlebury half of the field. Gianna Nitti hooked a restart from 35-yards yards on the left side that curved around the wall and into the far right-corner of the net for a 1-0 lead with only 2:45 expired.

Middlebury pressed for the equalizer and generated several quality scoring chances. Midway through the frame, Gretchen McGrath put a nice chip toward the front of the Duck net that Simone Ameer headed just over the cross bar. The pair switched roles to produce great bid, as Ameer freed up McGrath with a pass in the penalty area, but Stevens’ goalie Izzy DiDario made a diving save to her left to protect the lead. Nitti had another free kick minutes before halftime from the right side, but Panther goalie Ursula Alwang punched the shot away.

In the opening minutes of second stanza, Charman had a shot from the top of the box that sailed high. DiDario later pushed away a 50/50 ball from Middlebury’s Eliza Van Voorhis right at the goal mouth, keeping the difference at one. The Panthers pulled even with 23:08 showing on the clock, starting with a free kick outside of the restraining area. Eliza Robinson placed a ball in toward the net that Olivia Miller one-touched inside the left post for her fourth goal of the season.

Stevens scored what turned out to be the deciding tally with 15:04 remaining, when Emily Damrell sent a cross from the right side that hit a Middlebury defender and rolled past

Alwang finished with one save for Middlebury, while DiDario posted 10 for the Ducks. The hosts held a 21-7 advantage in shots and took four of the contest’s six corner kicks.


TROY, N.Y. — The Middlebury men’s soccer team (9-3-8) battled with No. 12 Rensselaer to a scoreless draw for 110 minutes of NCAA Tournament action Sunday at ECAV Stadium. With one team needing to advance in postseason play, the Engineers (15-2-4) moved on by winning penalty kicks by a 5-3 tally.

Middlebury had a good scoring chance 10 minutes into play when Ben Potter sent a low cross from the left that Brendan Barry ran onto, but Engineer goalie Luke Brezek got his foot on the cross. Five minutes later, Jacob LaBranche ripped a shot straight on from 20 yards that Brezek made a diving stop to his right. The Engineers turned up their offensive pressure in the latter stages of the half, testing Panther keeper Ryan Grady with two good chances. A sharp-angled shot in the 29th minute by Austin Betterly was stopped by the Panther keeper on the right post, before Josh Gaudiano took a shot from the left that Grady saved on the left post in the 38th minute to send the match into the half scoreless.

After the break, Betterly rifled an attempt from 25 yards straight at the 65:17 mark that Grady saved chest high. Middlebury’s Jacob Charles worked behind the Engineer defense in the 68th minute, but Brezek denied with his left arm a right-footed shot by Charles from 10 yards. On a Panther free kick with 8:45 left in regulation, a volley attempt by Michael McFarlane from 12 yards was saved by Brezek. The Engineers pressed late in the stanza, as a header by Trevor Bisson on a corner kick sailed just over the crossbar with two minutes remaining and sent the match to overtime.

In the first extra period, Middlebury had the lone chance in the 99th minute when Barry’s shot went wide right after a scramble in the box.

The second overtime saw Barry weave his way through the Rensselaer defense, taking a left-footed shot from 12 yards that Brezek saved at 103:09. Three minutes later, McFarlane headed a ball over the crossbar on a corner kick. On the second of back-to-back corners in the final minutes, Rensselaer’s Michael Hartan lifted a shot from 15 yards that was high, sending the match to penalty kicks.

During penalty kicks, Potter, Kieran Bhave and Shams Mohajerani each made their attempts for the Panthers to match the Engineers at 3-3 through three rounds. In the fourth, Brezek denied Liam Sloan’s rising attempt with his right arm, as Rensselaer’s Paul Silva buried the ball into the left side for the final 5-3 tally.

Rensselaer finished with a 16-9 edge in shots and a 10-3 corner kick advantage. Grady made four saves in goal for the Panthers, while Brezek was credited with five. The shutout was the 11th of the season for Middlebury.