Fog covered the Spartan Stadium like a blanket Wednesday night as No. 4 Castleton men’s soccer took down No. 5 Western New England 2-1 in a thrilling overtime finish in the ECAC New England quarterfinals
It took a total of 96 minutes to find out who would play Endicott in the second round. The game was decided at the mercy of junior forward, Solo Felekeni’s foot. The assists on the goal came from senior forward, Jake Tietgens, and sophomore midfielder, Ndayisenga Van Damme.
“It was crazy, everyone was in the box,” said Felekeni when asked about his game-winning goal. “I decided I had to work a little harder.”
Though the Spartans came away with the win, the Golden Bear’s pressure did not make it easy for them. A whopping 20 shots kept Spartans’ senior goaltender, Amir Pasic, very alert.
Of those 20 shots, only three were on net with another two shots hitting the post.
When asked about what it was like being in net with that much pressure, Pasic took a deep breath and wiped the sweat away from his forehead.
“It was tough, especially after losing to Thomas in penalties as well as that game still being so fresh. But it was definitely good to get the win in OT and not have to go to penalties again,” said Pasic, relieved that he and his team live to play another day.
The first goal of the game came just 13 minutes in to give the Spartans an early 1-0 lead. Senior forward Blake Hart took a shot that was too much for the goalie to handle, and Tietgens was able to tuck away the juicy rebound that followed.
Western New England’s goal came at the beginning of the second half, just two minutes in. Senior forward, Chad Burke, floated the ball into the box only to find freshman, Nick Liccardi, who headed the ball to the top left, just escaping Pasic’s fingertips, and in.
Spartans head coach, John O’Connor, was proud of his squad after the game saying how much he believed in them.
“I had confidence that they were going to do it, I’m so happy for them because post-season is so important,” said O’Connor.
The Spartans improved to 15-2-2 on the season, while the Golden Bears end their season with 11-9. With this win, the Spartans tied the school record for most wins in a single season.
O’Connor described the win as not only a victory on the scoreboard, but also a moral victory.
“This win doesn’t exactly make them feel better about the loss at Thomas, it certainly puts it in the back of their minds, but it also gives them some incentive to keep pushing along and extending the season,” said O’Connor
The men finished their season in Endicott earlier this week with a 4-2 loss in penalty kicks after regulation ended tied at one.