Fifth-Seeded MIT Advances on PKs After Tying Top-Seeded Babson, 2-2
BABSON PARK, Mass. – Junior Andrew Fijan (West Chester, Pa.) converted the decisive penalty kick to help fifth-seeded MIT advance in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament on Saturday. The Engineers officially tied top-seeded Babson College, 2-2, and then advanced in PKs, 5-4, at Babson's Hartwell-Rogers Field.
Now 12-4-2 on the season, MIT, ranked sixth in New England by the NCAA, will play either second-seeded Coast Guard or third-seeded Springfield College in the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Babson. Meanwhile, the Beavers (13-3-3), ranked fourth in the region, will await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the field is announced on Monday.
MIT exploded out of the gates, scoring two goals in the first 17 minutes of action. Sophomore John Kramer (Glastonbury, Conn.) put the Engineers on the board when he gained possession near the top of the box, made a move to his left, and curled a shot into the upper right corner from 15 yards out at 13:07. It was his seventh goal of the season and it gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Engineers struck again just three minutes later, beginning when first-year Austin Freel (San Diego, Calif.) sent a through-ball down the left side of the box. Fellow freshman Sean Bingham (Garden City, N.Y.) then beat a defender and Babson junior goalie Jackson Klein (Maplewood, N.J.) to the loose ball and chipped a shot into the far right corner for his team-leading 14th goal of the season at 16:50.
Trailing 2-0, Babson came storming back with two goals in a 10-minute stretch to even the contest. The first came at 19:43, when first-year Tyler Carlos (Prospect, Conn.) settled an attempted defensive clear and ripped a bending left-footed shot into the upper right 90 from the top of the 22-yard bubble for the first goal of his collegiate career.
Less than 10 minutes later, sophomore Justin Laurenzo (Park Ridge, N.J.) took a nice give-and-go feed from senior Ayo Iwuagwu (Lagos, Nigeria) near the top of the box and hit a low shot that was saved by MIT freshman keeper Jake Amereno (Commack, N.Y.) in the center of the goal mouth. The rebound then came right back to Laurenzo, who headed a shot past the sprawling Amereno and inside the right post for his sixth goal of the year at 29:20.
Neither team scored in the second half, although both had numerous chances. Babson's best opportunity came in the 67th minute, when senior Jimmy Stento (Needham, Mass.) had his shot off a cross from junior Dillon Ventura (Pittstown, N.J.) sail just wide of the far post. Kramer then had a strong chance for the Engineers when he took a through-ball from Bingham and ripped a shot on net, but Klein made a nice save to keep the contest even.
Each squad had one dangerous chance in the first overtime period, with MIT's coming less than three minutes in when Kramer had his open look from the top of the box go wide of the right post. Beavers' senior captain Eric Anderson (Scituate, Mass.) then fired a shot toward the lower left corner on a free kick from just outside the box at 96:38, but Amereno made a tremendous diving save to his right.
After Ventura fired a 40-yard shot that carried just over the crossbar midway through the second overtime, MIT had a golden chance to claim the victory with just over a minute left in the session. Bingham broke free up the middle of the field and put a shot on net, but Klein made a fantastic diving denial to his right at 108:49. Moments later, Kramer found space near the top of the box again, but Klein easily scooped up his shot attempt as the game officially ended in a 2-2 deadlock.
Amereno opened penalty kicks with a huge save on Babson's first attempt, and each team converted their next four chances. The Engineers then had a chance to advance on their fifth kick, but Klein kept the Beavers' hopes alive with a clutch stop near the right post. The momentum would be short-lived, however, as Amereno turned away Babson's next kick, setting up Fijan's clincher into the lower left corner that sent the Engineers to the title game.