NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The No. 18 Merrimack College men’s soccer secured the Northeast-10 Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament by winning the league tournament’s title game, 2-1, in a thrilling overtime victory over Bentley, on Sunday afternoon from Martone-Mejail Field. It was the first conference tournament title for the Warriors in 20 years.
Score: No. 18 Merrimack – 2, Bentley – 1 | Final OT
Records: No. 18 Merrimack (16-2-2) |Bentley (7-10-2)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
2017 NE10 Championship:
Tuesday, October 31st
Quarterfinals – at Higher Seeds
Match 1: #8 Bentley 2, #1 Adelphi, 1
Match 2: #7 Franklin Pierce 0 at #2 Merrimack 2
Match 3: #6 Saint Rose 1, #3 Southern Connecticut, 3
Match 4: #5 Le Moyne, 0, #4 Southern New Hampshire, 0 (Le Moyne won 4-2 in PK’s)
Friday, November 3rd
Semifinals – at Higher Seeds
Match 5: #8 Bentley 2, #5 Le Moyne 1 | Final
Match 6: #3 Southern Connecticut 1 at #2 Merrimack 3 | Final
Sunday, November 5th
Championship Final at Highest Seed
Match 7: #8 Bentley 1, #2 Merrimack 2 | Final OT
How It Happened
- Neither team had much going in the early part of the game as possession was played in the midfield.
- 18′ – Graduate student Josue Ruiz Maya (Madero, Mexico) struck first for the Warriors. Merrimack had a corner kick taken by sophomore Kevin Esper (Revere, Mass.), who sent the ball into the box. Ruiz Maya leaped over everyone and knocked the ball just underneath the cross bar to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
- Senior keeper Lucas Rezende (Weymouth, Mass.) made a pair of saves for the Warriors in the 37th minute to keep it a 1-0 lead.
- Both team combined for just seven more shots for the remainder of the first half.
- Merrimack kept the pressure going in the second half, firing off five shots in the first 17 minutes. Falcons’ keeper David Price made a couple huge saves to keep it a one goal deficit for the visitors.
- 85′ – Bentley finally broke through, following a Merrimack foul. A ball was sent into the box and kicked around a few times, before Adam Watkins kicked it in from the far post.
- Merrimack had a chance to win it in regulation, but a late shot went just wide of the net with 20 seconds remaining.
- It was another corner kick by Esper that led to the game-winning goal. His cross was sent into the box and found the head of sophomore Aasmund Joedahl (Ridabu, Norway), who knocked it by the keeper and into the back of the net to ignite the home crowd.
Inside The Numbers
- Sunday marked Joedahl’s second game-winning goal of the season and sixth overall, a career-high.
- The 16th win ties the all-time record for most wins in a season. The two other times it has happened was during the 1994 and 1997 seasons.
- Esper registered his first two career points, both assists in the contest.
- Ruiz Maya was named 2017 NE10 Tournament MVP, while Joedahl and junior Sergio Martinez (Tampico, Mexico) were named to the All-Tournament team.
- Keeper records: Lucas Rezende (W, 16-2-2,) // David Price (L, 5-4-1)
- Shots (SOG): MER – 23 (10) // BEN – 8 (4)
- Corners: MER – 9 // BEN – 2
The Warriors will now wait to see who they will play in the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship, during the NCAA selection show on Monday night at 6:30 p.m.