Matt Garcia (left) and Jarrett Armstrong (right) playing in a Skyline Conference Championship game. (Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)

by John Buckridge

Fifty seven seconds felt like an eternity on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Kaplan Field. That was how much time was on the clock when senior midfielder Brandon Mincher of the Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) men’s soccer team fed a pass to the top of the box where sophomore Michael Ennis was waiting to be a hero.

Ennis’ strike went across the net to the upper right hand corner for a goal. The shot not only put a point on the scoreboard; the shot sent a crowd of spectators into an uproar that could have been heard from the Tappan Zee Bridge; the shot made 27 young athletes act like kids on Christmas; the shot gave the Knights their first ever Skyline Conference Championship.

The stage was set for the Knights to square off against the Farmingdale State Rams for the conference title. “Feel free to storm the field after” said senior defender Kevin Ryan, the team withholding the confident swagger they’ve kept all season.

At 3:30 p.m., with game time approaching, the electricity could be felt by everyone from the players and coaches to the fans who circled the field all the way around from the bleachers by the tennis courts. The game would prove to be everything any sports fan would want a title game to be: a close, nail biting battle until the end.

The Knights struck the first blow in this battle by taking a fairly early lead.

Junior forward Matt Garcia, who has been scoring goals all season for the Knights, fittingly got them started in the biggest game all season. Garcia took a pass from Brandon Mincher and sent off a bending shot from 18 yards out that went over the top of the goalkeeper’s reach. The next goal would not come as easy, as Rams’ goalie Angelo Viteritti bounced back strong from that first goal.

The Knights took that 1-0 advantage with them into the half. They knew that if they played just 45 more minutes flawlessly, they would be champs. On the other hand, the Rams came out of the half refusing to go down that easy.

Just four minutes into the second half, J.T. Famularo of the Rams received a rebound of the post and sent the ball into the net past Knights’ senior goalie Matt Darling. That was the only ball that would get by him as he picked up three huge saves during the rest of the game.o

After the Rams quick second half goal tied the score at one a piece, the rest of the game was an all-out brawl for the go-ahead goal. Back and forth, from net to net, no player gave an inch. The Knights had more shots on goal, 15-8, and the Rams had the advantage in corner kicks, 5-1.

This struggle lasted until the final minute when it was “now or never.” The clock hit 00:57 and Michael Ennis’s shot hit the back of the net.

It was the longest 57 seconds imaginable. Once the sight of Michael’s teammates rushing and crowding him cleared, the team resumed playing. As the clock struck 00:10, a chorus of Knight fans began counting down the seconds as if they were in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Once they got down to one, pandemonium broke loose off and on the field as the players on the Knight bench erupted and spilled onto the turf, swarming their teammates. They had finally done it; they had won their first Conference Championship title in the Mount’s history for men’s soccer.

For his efforts, Michael Ennis was named Skyline Conference Championship Most Outstanding Player as his last minute goal gave the Knights the victory.

Senior defender Rob Thompson is still walking around his house with the conference trophy held tight. But who could blame him?