HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College men's soccer team battled for every inch over the course of 89-plus minutes against Dickinson Sunday afternoon in the Centennial Conference Championship match. During that time, neither side found any cracks in the opposition's defense. That all changed with 19.1 seconds to play when Will Corkery's direct kick from just outside of the 18 beat the Red Devils' keeper for the Centennial Conference Championship-winning goal.
Corkery's late heroics marked his eighth goal of the season. Named the Centennial Conference Tournament MVP after he also had the game-winning goal in yesterday's semifinal match against Johns Hopkins, Corkery now has a school record seven game-winning goals on the season. The win gives Haverford its second Centennial Conference Championship in four seasons and guarantees the Fords a spot in the NCAA Tournament with the Centennial's automatic qualifier.
Ironically, it was Corkery's direct kick that was also the Red Devils undoing during the regular season matchup as his goal on a direct kick in that match was also a game-winning attempt from when these teams met in mid-October. Both defenses tightened up even more in Sunday's championship match. Both Haverford's Sam Miller and Dickinson's Jeremy Palcan made four crucial stops to keep the game in a deadlock.
Today's victory marks Haverford's 10th conference championship in program history. The Fords also won eight Middle Atlantic Conference Championships in addition to the 2012 and 2015 Centennial Conference titles. On top of the conference titles, the storied program has also won eight International Soccer Football Association National Championships and four Association Cricket Club League Championships before becoming affiliated with a conference. Haverford, now riding a 14 game winning streak after the heart-stopping victory, will enter the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in program history.
The Fords are just the second team in Centennial Conference history to go a perfect 9-0-0 during the regular season and then capture the conference title with a pair of victories in the conference tournament. They are also the first team since 2010 to serve as tournament host and then hoist the championship trophy on their home field. However, the feat was anything but simple as the Dickinson offense peppered Haverford with 18 shots over the course of the 90 minutes. Nonetheless, Miller stood tall and made four saves. Three of those stops came during the second half as the Red Devils had 12 of their shots during the final 45 minutes of play.
Corkery had three of Haverford's five shots on goal during the match. He had a direct kick stopped by Palcan in the 55th minute on a great diving save. He also saw his first shot of the game saved during the ninth minute of play. After getting subbed out during the second half for the first time all game, Corkery anxiously awaited his chance to get on the sideline. He got the chance with his return to the pitch in the 78th minute. Just 12 minutes after his re-entry, his direct kick lifted the team to the conference title.
The conference championship marks the second during the career of Haverford's senior class as Ian Alers, Brady Seitz, Colin Seitz, and Sam Yarosh were all freshmen members of the 2012 championship squad. The win now puts this season as the second-winningest team in terms of overall wins in program history. The only team that has posted for more victories than this year's 16-3 squad was the 1992 team that finished the season at 17-4 overall.
The Fords will look to tie the program record for victories in the NCAA Tournament. Haverford will find out its path through the NCAA Tournament this Monday with the selection show at 1:30 p.m. The selection show will be streamed live on NCAA.com.