Soccer - Brandon Mincher
Brandon Mincher, #2 of the Mount Saint Mary College Men's Soccer Team. (Photo by Lee Ferris, Mount Saint Mary College)

by John Buckridge

With only three games remaining in the regular season, the Mount Saint Mary College men’s soccer team headed into the weekend of Oct. 19 with an 8-3-2 overall record.  The Knights needed two big victories on Sunday, Oct. 20, and Tuesday, Oct. 22, to keep alive the hope of gaining home field advantage in the playoffs.  Although the two games played out differently, both games resulted in victories for the Knights

Yeshiva University at Mount Saint Mary College

On Sunday, Oct. 20, the Knights faced off at home against the Yeshiva University Maccabees.  The Knights came into the match-up with a perfect home record this season, and they had won their previous seven contests against the Maccabees.

A confident, Robert Thompson, senior defender from West Babylon, said, “expect a lot of goals to be scored by us, which makes my day on defense a lot easier,” before Sunday’s game.

Thompson’s prediction was accurate, as Sunday’s game was rout by the surging Knights’ offense.  Led by junior forward, Matt Garcia, from Wappingers Falls, who had his second hat trick of the season, the Knights dominated Kaplan Field.  Garcia’s three goals all came within the first half of play, giving him a total of 14 on the season.

The Knights would score three additional goals to make the score 6-0 at halftime.  These first-half goals were scored by sophomore Michael Ennis, from Carmel,NY, senior Sean Barton, from Wallkill, and senior Brandon Mincher, from Bayport, NY, who scored on an assist from mid field by senior Kevin Ryan, from West Islip, NY.

The second half did not improve much for Yeshiva, as the Knights would tack on four more goals.  Goals came courtesy of sophomore Adam Palumbo, from East Islip, NY, Barton, his second on the game, and two from junior Mark Maus, from Poughkeepsie. Mincher and senior Christian Redl, from Poughkeepsie, led the team in assists on the afternoon with two each.  Everyone on MSMC’s roster saw playing time.

The game would eventually finish at a 10-0 score and would prove to be a total mismatch. The Knights finished with 12 corner kicks to Yeshiva’s 3, and 37 shots on goal to Yeshiva’s 7.  Senior goalkeeper Matt Darling, of Staatsburg, NY, only needed for two saves to record his fifth shutout of the season, as the Knight’s defense completely controlled the Maccabees.

Mount Saint Mary College at SUNY New Paltz

Two days later, a game against the SUNY New Paltz Hawks was complete opposite Sunday’s beatdown.  The Tuesday night game was a double-overtime nail biter.  The hard-fought defensive clash between regional rivals finished in a low scoring, 2-1 victory for the Knights.

Although New Paltz’s record coming into the game of 4-9-3 could not compare to the Mount’s 9-3-2 record, meetings between the two schools are always emotional, tough battles.  The Hawks dealt the first blow in the 20th minute of play, as Stephen Browne assisted Alec Johnson for the game’s first goal and put New Paltz up 1-0.

The Mount would be kept out of the net until the 71st minute.  Senior Sean Lockwood, from Manahawkin, N.J., drilled the ball into the right corner of the net, sending the game into overtime.

Making his first start of the season, freshman goalkeeper Tyler Biscone, from Garden City, NY, was relieved by Darling, after one half of impressive play.  Darling took over and recorded four much-needed saves to keep the game tied.

After 110 minutes of play, in the second overtime, team goal leader Garcia brought the game to an end by scoring the winning goal off of a free kick that he bent around the line of defenders.  Garcia’s 15th goal on the season was perfectly placed in the left corner of the net and gave the Knights the 2-1 victory.

The game was strikingly more evenly matched than projected.  Both teams had 17 shots on goal, the Knights had only six corner kicks to the Hawks’ four, and the Hawks had just one more save.  A win is a win, though no matter what form it comes in.

The Knights proved on Tuesday that they can prevail in high pressure situations late in the game.  With their two huge victories, The Mount maintains its chances for a first round bye, and home field advantage in the playoffs.