The players of the Spartan men’s soccer team can call themselves North Atlantic Conference champions for the second straight year. The second-seeded Spartans upset the first-seeded Husson University Eagles in penalty kicks after the 1-1 game could not be decided in two ten-minute overtimes on Nov. 8, in Bangor, Maine. Just over three minutes into the second half, Greg Klopfer put the Spartans on the board with a header off of a cross from T. J. Mazza.
“I was just thinking the rest of the half was please don’t let them score,” said Klopfer. “I just want to get this half over with and have a fun time celebrating on the bus home.”
Unfortunately for Klopfer, after the Spartan’s score, the Eagles put consistent pressure on the Spartans. With 10 minutes left to play in regulation, Eagle Josh Labonte tied the game as he put one past Spartan keeper Mike Anthony, eventually sending the game into overtime.
“There was without a doubt a sense of urgency from them,” said Anthony. “They crashed the net hard, served up a lot of balls, and picked up the physical play too. Mentally, I was just trying to stay focused on our defense, make sure we kept our positioning and that we were keeping our marks.”
After two overtimes without a goal, the game came down to penalty kicks. Ryan Hahn, Corey Robbins, Jason Potter, Klopfer, and Mazza were selected to propel the Spartans into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Tournament.
“You have to have faith in your teammates in that situation, and I think we all had that, I know I did,” said Anthony.
Anthony, NAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, stopped Husson’s second shot off of the foot of Nathan Carter.
“After I stopped the one PK I knew we had grabbed a clear advantage. It’s huge because the pressure is all on them now and their keeper; not only do they have to answer our shooters, now their keeper must come up with a stop,” said Anthony.” He added, “However, the game was by no means in the bag.”
In fact, the game turned out to be in the bag. All five Spartan shooters made their shots, giving the Spartans the outcome they had been hoping for since last season ended.
The Spartans have now won four NAC Tournaments in the past six years. Three of those have been under head coach John Werner.
The Spartans did not know their opponent in the NCAA Division III Tournament at the time of this article.