WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Senior co-captain Shane Recklet's
(Shelton, Conn.) goal in the final round of penalty kicks with St.
Francis (NY) sent the Quinnipiac University men's soccer team to
its first ever Northeast Conference Championship Game Sunday at
noon. The senior midfielder put a shot into the lower right corner
to give the Bobcats a 4-3 advantage in penalty kicks after they
played to a 1-1 tie with the Terriers through regulation and two
overtime periods at Monmouth's Great Lawn in the second NEC
semifinal of the day. The win was the first in postseason play in
program history for Quinnipiac.
"This is a monumental moment for our program with all the hard work that the players and staff has put in," said head coach Eric Da Costa. "It has been a five-year process to get to this point. The excitement we feel right now has to be short lived because we understand the work we have to do in preperation for Sunday's game."
Senior goalkeeper Freddy Hall (St. George, Bermuda) made two saves in the round of penalty kicks, stopping the first and last shot he faced. His save on St. Francis' Anthony Matos in the last round gave Recklet the opportunity to score the game winner for Quinnipiac. Hall had been guessing the shooting side correctly against three of the first four shooters and against Matos he did so again, making a diving save to his right.
Hall ended the game with a season high in saves, stopping 14 shots in 110 minutes of action before turning aside three Terriers on penalty kicks. St. Francis' Chris Antonino only made three saves in the game and none on penalty kicks as the Terriers outshot the Bobcats, 23-8, in the game.
John Sallhag gave the Terriers the 1-0 lead midway through the first half. Robbie Weir started the play with a quick flick to Semso Nikocevic in the box. Nikocevic made a centering pass to Sallhag near the top of the six-yard box for the one-touch goal and the 1-0 advantage.
Sophomore Durval Pereira (Cheshire, Conn.) tied the game at 1-1 in the 66th minute. The second-year Bobcat lined up to take a free kick from roughly 40 yards away from the goal. Pereira's shot sailed into the box and over all of the Terrier defenders in the box and into the goal.
Neither team would score again in regulation or overtime. During the two extra sessions, both the Bobcats and Terriers played cautiously, keeping the ball at midfield for much of the extra 20 minutes. This style of play resulted in limited scoring opportunities for the Bobcats, while St. Francis put two shots on Hall in each overtime period.
Junior Johan Karlhagen (Gothenburg, Sweden) scored the first penalty kick goal for Quinnipiac on a shot to the upper right corner. Junior Dominic Adams (John Dial, Trinidad and Tobago) followed with a shot that sailed over the net before Pereira netted a tally on a shot to the middle of the goal on his penalty kick opportunity. Junior defender and All-NEC First Team member Pierre Soubrier (Aurignac, France) scored the Bobcats' third penalty kick goal with a shot that hit the crossbar and ricocheted into the goal. Hall stopped Nikocevic on the Terriers' first opportunity and Matos on the final shot, allowing Recklet to score the winner.
Quinnipiac will take on top-seeded Monmouth Sunday in the 2009 NEC Championship Game from the Great Lawn in West Long Branch, N.J., at noon.