Men's Soccer Crushes RPI to Reach NCAA Sweet 16
SWARTHMORE, Pa. - For the third time in five seasons, the Swarthmore College men's soccer team is Sweet 16 bound.
Behind its most complete and dominant performance of the 2012 season, the Garnet (16-2-2) dismantled visiting Rensselaer 3-0 on Sunday evening in NCAA Division III Championship Tournament second-round action from Clothier Field Stadium.
Junior captain Noah Sterngold, junior captain Jack Momeyer and sophomore Michael Stewart all scored first-half goals for Swarthmore, which advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009.
The Garnet's Sweet 16 opponent will be Amherst, which defeated Dickinson 4-0 in second-round action. That match will be played at Amherst on Saturday, Nov. 17, at a time yet to be determined. Official times will be announced by the NCAA on Tuesday morning.
In goal for the Garnet, Peter Maxted made four saves - including two world-class stops in a span of seconds - to earn his second-consecutive clean sheet.
In its most important match of the season to date, the Garnet played nearly flawless soccer for the full 90 minutes, leaving the visiting Engineers shellshocked.
The Garnet set the tone early, using crisp passing and a constant attack to register five shots on target in the opening 15 minutes of action. After an early near-miss in the third minute from freshman Wyatt McCall on a breakaway, Swarthmore got on the scoreboard with a long-distance goal from Sterngold in the 10th minute. Set up from Stewart on the left wing, the captain recorded his first goal of the season with a blast from 25-yards out to make it 1-0 Garnet.
Even with the lead, the Garnet never took its foot off the gas pedal, continually pressing forward. That constant pressure resulted in Swarthmore's second goal of the match in the 30th minute, as Stewart hammered home a loose ball near the left post following a Joe Keedy shot on target. The goal was Stewart's team-leading 14th of the season, which is tied for the fourth-best single-season total in program history.
Ahead 2-0, Swarthmore put a stamp on its near-immaculate first half with a third and final goal right before the halftime whistle. While on the counter attack in the 44th minute, junior defender Geli Carabases found Momeyer with a long pass towards the goal. Momeyer - in what may have been his most spectacular score of the season - took the pass in air and volleyed it into the far post past a motionaless RPI 'keeper to put the Garnet ahead 3-0.
When it was all said and done, a completely-superior Swarthmore squad found itself ahead 3-0 at the break, out-shooting an answerless Engineers' team 15-4.
In the second half, the Swarthmore defense took the spotlight in preserving the shutout. In particular was Maxted, who earned the clean sheet thanks to two brilliant saves on back-to-back shots by RPI's Michael Birk in the 69th minute.
The win was the Garnet's second over RPI this season, having defeated the Engineers 2-0 in Troy, N.Y. on Sept. 8.
The first and second rounds couldn't have gone any better for Swarthmore, which out-scored its opponents 6-0 and out-shot them 43-16.
Along with Amherst, the other teams in the Garnet's sectional are Williams, which defeated St. Lawrence 2-1 (OT) on Sunday, and Brandeis, which defeated Vassar 1-0 on Sunday.
Swarthmore will await word from the NCAA on the time of its third round match-up with Amherst. Check with NCAA.com and Swarthmoreathletics.com for updates.