Wilmington Men’s Soccer Season Comes to a Close After 3-0 Loss To Top Ranked Southern New Hampshire in Second Round of NCAA Tournament
MSoc: #1/No. 2 So. New Hampshire 3 - No. 6 Wilmington 0; NCAA Second Round
Saturday, November 16, 2013 - Manchester, N.H.
Click Image to Enlarge
Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by James Jones.
A match against the newly appointed number one team in the country, according to the NSCAA Division II National Poll, was too much to handle for the Wilmington University men’s soccer team on Saturday, as it fell to Southern New Hampshire in the second round of the NCAA East Regional Tournament at Larkin Field.
Seeded No. 2 for the East Regional Tournament, Southern New Hampshire scored a pair of goals in the final 8:04 of the first half to gain control and finish off No. 6 seed Wilmington in the National Tournament.
For the Wildcats, it’s the end of the 2013 season as they finished with the second most wins in program history (13). Wilmington finished 13-6-2 overall on the year.
The last seed to gain a spot for the East Regional Tournament, the Wildcats defeated third seeded Post on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to Saturday’s match. It was the first time that a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference program won an NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament match.
But Southern New Hampshire was too much to handle on Saturday, winning its 19th consecutive match of the year, advancing to the East Regional Championship next week against Top Seeded LIU Post.
“When you get to this part of the tournament, all the teams are going to be playing at a high level,” 10th year head coach Nick Papanicolas, who led the team to its second ever appearance in the NCAA program (2009) said. “They are the number one team in the country for a reason, but I thought our guys played hard. We did everything we could. We had a couple of mistakes. What happens at this level is that when you make mistake, teams will punish you. They did a great job of taking it to us for a good portion of game. I take my hat off to them. They are a great and storied program, but I felt we belonged in the game. We belonged to be here.”
After an evenly played first 25 minutes of the contest, Southern New Hampshire started to show its dominance and finally broke through at the 36:56 mark of the match. Brian Francolini tallied his sixth goal of the season on a through ball down the middle from Miguel Carneiro, beating Wildcat goalkeeper Spyros Stergiotis as he came out to challenge.
A little over eight minutes later, Christian Rodriguez finished off a 1-2-3 combination in the box, tapping in a pass to the far post off connecting passes from Francolini and Kenny Doublette at the 43:02 mark.
Rodriguez finished off the scoring with his second goal of the match in the 74th minute, volleying home a strike from outside the 18 to the upper left corner of the goal off a turnover in the backfield.
The Penmen (19-1) outshot the Wildcats 21-7 for the match, but only were able to get seven shots on frame. The Wildcats put three of their seven shots on the goal.
“Being able to play in this game is a monumental piece for us,” Papanicolas continued. “We had a lot of highs and lows, just like any season would go. We played well at the right times. We took care of business when we had to. We had a great year. I am unbelievably proud of this team and the program. I know the alumni are proud of this team. We did some great things.”
The loss marked the end for six student-athletes in a Wildcat uniform, as Tim Bailey, Chad Jenkins, Matko Novak, Tommy Quaranta, Mike Valenti, Otis Williams, and Todd Woll played their final contest for Wilmington.
“This senior group has been great,” Papanicolas concluded. “They are a great group of guys that are able to leave this program and enter the real world as young men. That is ultimately our job here. I think they had a great experience while they were here. They left a great imprint on this program and they will always be remembered.”