Rory O'Neill '13 (#7, main photo) netted his team-leading seventh goal of the season and his fifth game-winner of the year in the 24th minute as Wesleyan defeated Misericordia, 1-0, in an NCAA Division III first-round game Sat., Nov. 12 at Rutgers-Camden. Now 4-0 in first-round NCAA contests, the Cardinals advanced to a second-round meeting with host Rutgers-Camden, which defeated U.S.M.M.A., 4-2, in its first-round contest.
O'Neill, who was named first-team all-NESCAC earlier in the week, and later was named NSCAA first-team All-New England, received a square pass from Walter Rodriguez '13 at the top of the box and pounded a low shot past a diving Misericordia goalie inside the left post at 23:42. It proved to be the game's lone goal as the Wesleyan defense, led by goalie Adam Purdy '13 (#30, photo lower left), who recorded five saves, kept the Cougars at bay. Purdy also was a first-team all-NESCAC choice for the second time in his career and earned second-team NSCAA all-New England recognition. Harrison Lewin '12 (#14, photo upper left) was an integral force in helping Wesleyan, and Purdy, post its 11th shutout of the year. For Purdy, it represented a single-season school record while he also upped his school-record career total to 24.
Misericordia, winners of the Freedom Conference, outshot Wesleyan, 14-10, and held a 5-4 edge in shots on goal in the first-ever meeting of the teams.
When Wesleyan and Rutgers-Camden locked horns Sun., Nov. 13, it was the first time they have met on the pitch. Wesleyan fell to 0-3-1 in second-round NCAA games when Rutgers broke a 1-1 tie in the 84th minute and hung on for a 2-1 victory. In other NCAA second-round games, the Cardinals had fallen in overtime to Messiah in 2005 and to Montclair St., 2-1, in 2006. Wesleyan advanced past Western New England on penalty kicks in 2009.
At Rutgers, Wesleyan tied the game in the 56th minute when Noah Schlesinger '13 penetrated down the right flank and sent a perfectly placed centering pass to the middle of the box. A diving Evan Hazelett '13 sent the ball past the Rutgers keeper with a header for his fifth goal of the season. Wesleyan had an excellent chance to take its first lead of the game in the 72nd minute when Steve Paresi '12 sent a long serve from the left side to the head of O'Neill. O'Neill's pass to the middle of the box found Greg Shaheen '15, but his shot from 15 yards out was stopped by the outstretched arm of the Rutgers keeper to keep it a 1-1 game.
Rutgers took the lead for good at 83:21 with a low shot from the right side of the box. That complemented the Scarlet Raptors' opening goal at 20:14 with a through pass behind the Cardinal defense on the right. The shot was deflected by Purdy, who finished with a career-record tying eight saves, but still maintained its course on goal. It was the third time during Purdy's three seasons that he finished a game with eight saves, all coming this season.
Wesleyan finished the year with an 11-3-3 mark, the team's fifth double-digit victory season in the last seven years and fourth NCAA tournament appearance in the same time frame.