The Berkeley College New York men's soccer team put forth a valiant effort on Saturday evening in the semifinal round of the 2017 Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, but the Knights ultimately fell short, losing to the Panthers of the Albany College of Pharmacy in a classic match.
The two league foes were knotted 1-1 from the 25th minute forward – with the fantastic contest staying tied through two overtime sessions before moving to penalty kicks. Once the semifinal moved to kicks, the Panthers converted on all four of their attempts, while Berkeley College was only able to score on two of its four kicks.
The victory sends the Panthers to the championship match tomorrow afternoon, as Albany College of Pharmacy will take on the No.1 seeded Mighty Oaks of SUNY-ESF, who earlier in the day turned back No. 4 New Rochelle by a score of 2-1. SUNY-ESF will aim for its second consecutive conference crown, while Albany will shoot sixth league title.
For the Knights – Berkeley College will now have to await word on a possible at-large bid to the USCAA Division II National Men's Soccer Tournament. The entire field will be announced on Tuesday, October 31. Regardless of whether Berkeley receives a bid, the Knights will have at least one more game on the season – a November 5 match at Yeshiva University.
Albany College of Pharmacy took an early lead in this one, getting a goal from Jack Hanlon just 9:47 into the match. The goal was Hanlon's fourth on the 2017 campaign, and Kyle Jenkins picked up an assist on the play. That's the way the score would remain until the 25th minute, when the Knights would tie the game on a goal by standout Marcos Leon. The tally was the eighth on the year for Leon, with Matthew Perreira picking up an assist on the play. Both teams were unable to net a go-ahead goal for the remainder of the opening session, and as the teams broke for halftime, the match was tied 1-1.
The Knights and the Panthers both had their opportunities to net a potential game-winner in the second half, with Berkeley College tallying nine shots (including five on-goal), and Albany College of Pharmacy recording eight shots (two on-goal), but neither club was able to score. The match would then move to overtime.
The teams would play through two grueling overtime periods, but neither squad was able to find the back of the net. The semifinal round match would then head to penalty kicks, where it all came together for the Panthers.
Berkeley College would strike first in the penalty kick session, with Valon Berisha slipping a ball past Albany's Matt Houlihan to give his team a 1-0 edge in the shootout. The Panthers' Nolan Keith would then even things up, as he tapped a ball into the net – past Osvin Videz-Vasquez – to make it 1-1. Albany College of Pharmacy's next three shooters – Mina Girgis, Kyle Jenkins, and Jack Hanlon – would all convert on their attempts, while two of the next three Knights would fail to score, including Matthew Perreira and Macos Leon (Omario Rosen scored on his shot). The clinching goal came off of the foot on Albany's Hanlon, as he put his team up 4-2 after four rounds of the shootout, essentially ending the match. Following the loss, Head Coach Stavros Zomopoulos gave his thoughts.
"I want to give a tremendous amount of credit to both teams here this evening," Zomopoulos said. "Both squads gave it everything they had, and really gave the fans here this evening a show. As regulation progressed, we knew that the second goal for either squad could essentially prove to be the game-winner. Neither team was able to score that goal, and once it advanced to penalty kicks – they were just the better team. The margin for error once it gets to the shootout is so small, and they performed better than us there. We tip our caps to them and wish them the best of luck in the championship. We will certainly be watching the selection show on Tuesday, and we'll also be ready for our November 5 match against Yeshiva University. I'm certainly disappointed that we're not playing in the league championship match tomorrow, but we will take this as a learning experience and be better for it when this tournament rolls around again in 2018."
Berkeley out-shot Albany by a count of 16-14, and Albany College of Pharmacy held a 7-6 edge in corner kicks. The Knights were whistled for 27 fouls compared to 13 for the Panthers, and Albany College of Pharmacy goalkeeper Matt Houlihan made eight saves in a winning effort for his team.
Berkeley College goalkeeper Shane Fokuo played 102:33, allowing just one goal and making three saves. Videz-Vasquez logged 17:27 and played the shootout, making one save.
Those interested in seeing if the Knights qualify for the USCAA's can do so by navigating to www.theuscaa.com on Tuesday evening.