Walter Rodriguez '13 (#10, left side photo) scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute as third-seeded Wesleyan erased a halftime deficit to come back to defeat sixth-seeded Trinity in the first round of the NESCAC men’s soccer tournament Sat., Oct. 27. It was the second time in a four-day span the Cardinals got by the Bantams by a 2-1 count.
Despite a 1-0 setback to Amherst in the NESCAC semifinal at Williams Sat., Nov. 3, the Cardinals received their fifth bid to the NCAA Division III Championship in the last eight years. Wesleyan will take on Haverford (12-7), the Centennial Conference winners, in a first-round game Sat., Nov. 10 at Arcadia U. in Glenside, Pa. The host is Stevens Tech, which faces Methodist in the other regional matchup. Winner play again on Sunday, Nov. 11. Amherst went on to capture the NESCAC title vs. Williams, 2-0, and receive an NCAA bye as one of the top two seeded teams in the national tournament. Williams and Tufts also qualified for the NCAAs from the NESCAC.
In the Trinity quarterfinal, the Wesleyan winner came off a nifty pass in traffic from Dan Issroff '15 from the 18-yard mark to a streaking Rodriguez. It was his first goal of the season.
Trinity had the halftime edge on an unassisted goal in the 27th minute. The goal came from 10 yards over diving Wesleyan senior goalie Adam Purdy after the Cardinals twice failed to clear the ball near the top of the box. Wesleyan still managed to outshoot the Bantams in the period, 7-6.
Trinity nearly added another score nine minutes into the second half, but Purdy came up with a fingertip deflection off a point blank shot.
Wesleyan got the equalizer in the 65th minute when Cabell Maddux '13 flicked a header onto the foot of Rory O’Neill '13 (#7, right side photo) who chipped it past the Trinity keeper for his team-leading fifth goal of the year. O'Neill was named a CoSIDA/Capiltal One District II academic All-American for his fine play this year and outstanding GPA in excess of 3.3 and will appear on the national Division III ballot for academic All-America honors, to be announced the end of November.
After the O’Neill goal, the Cardinals turned up the heat and dominated the remaining minutes. In fact, Trinity managed just two shots in the final 20 minutes of the period. Wesleyan won the shot tally, 16-11.
Purdy, making his 67th consecutive start in goal for Wesleyan, finished the game with four saves.
In the semifinals, Amherst scored the game's only goal in the 34th minute with a well-constructed four-part passing play that resulted in a shot from about six yards out. The Lord Jeffs made it hold up as they held a 12-7 edge in total shots and limited the Cardinals to just two shots on goal. Purdy came up with three stops in the Wesleyan net.
Wesleyan stands 9-4-3 overall on the season and has never lost a first-round NCAA game, winning 3-2 in overtime at Muhlenberg in 2005; defeating Baruch, 5-0, at home in 2006; conquering St. Joseph's (Me.), 2-0, at home in 2009; and most recently downing Misericordia, 1-0, in a game played at Rutgers-Camden last year.