LANCASTER, Pa. – Muhlenberg scored with just 2:47 remaining in regulation time to hand the Haverford College men's soccer team a 1-0 defeat on Sunday afternoon in the Centennial Conference Championship match. That game-winning goal in the 88th minute of play sent the second-seeded Mules (14-1-2), ranked No. 17 in the latest national coaches' poll, to the conference title, while the fourth-seeded Fords finished as the runner-up in what was the team's third appearance in the conference finals during the past four seasons.
The Fords will now have to await Monday's NCAA Selection Show to see if they have been selected for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Haverford boasts one of the highest strength of schedule ratings in the region and added a 2-0 win against NCAA No. 4 Franklin & Marshall during yesterday's Centennial Conference semifinals.
Haverford faced a slight wind in the opening half and it showed in the stats as the Mules held a 6-2 edge in shots over the first 45 minutes of play. However, Haverford goalie Sam Miller came up with two stops in goal to keep the game scoreless at the half.
With the wind at its back, Haverford looked to have the upper hand during the second half of play with a 6-4 edge in shots over the final 45 minutes. The Fords also had a 5-0 edge in corner kick opportunities during that time frame.
The pressure in the second half came quickly from the Fords as both Brady Seitz and Sam Yarosh had headers saved by Muhlenberg's goalie Danny Pinto in the first 10 minutes of that stanza. The Fords also had three corner chances and another shot that was blocked from Will Corkery crammed into that 10 minute block.
Haverford's best chance to score in the game came in the 71st minute of play when Yarosh was able to get behind the Mules' defense, but sent his shot just wide of the target with Pinto coming out to cut down his shot angle. The Fords also created a scramble earlier in the half off a corner kick but were unable to get a clean look off on the Muhlenberg keeper.
Like Pinto, Miller made three stops in the second half as he finished with five saves for the contest. His saves included a diving stop late in the second half to deny the Mules the go-ahead goal for the time being. However, a turnover deep in Haverford's defensive third would ultimately sink the Fords' defensive stronghold they had on the game. Muhlenberg's Phil Rahling collected that loose ball and fired to the right side of the net, giving his team the eventual game-winning goal with just 2:47 showing on the game clock.
Haverford earned one final corner kick chance as the clock ticked under one minute. The Fords were able to get a shot off from Seitz that was saved, sealing Pinto's shutout for the Mules. Seitz finished with three shots, all on goal, for the Haverford offense. Yarosh has two shots, while Dorian Wirz and Corkery rounded out the Fords' runs at goal on the afternoon.
Men's soccer will not have to wait long to hear its postseason fate as the NCAA Division III men's soccer selection show is slated for Monday at 1:30 p.m.