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Haverford Heads Back To Centennial Championship Game With OT Winner

Haverford Heads Back To Centennial Championship Game With OT Winner

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College men's soccer team registered a 2-1 overtime victory over Washington College on Saturday at Walton Field on the Haverford Campus. The Fords used an overtime winner from Russell Nicholson, his second-consecutive game-winning goal, to advance to the Centennial Conference Championship for the third straight year and the fifth time in the last six seasons. Haverford moves its record to 12-3-3 with the win while Washington College finishes at 10-7-2.

Haverford held a 28-5 shot advantage and out-cornered the Shoremen 17-1 in the contest, which featured a bevy of offensive chances for the Fords throughout the run of play.  In the 15th minute of action, Ben Field found Nick Jannelli down low in the box, but Janneli's chance sailed just high, despite a dominant run of possession in the early going for the hosts. Tejan Walcott had a header that seemed destined on frame but sailed just high with the seventh shot of the contest in the 19th minute of play as the Fords tested the Shoremen back line and goalkeeper Josh Samuels.

The Shoremen struck first in the 31st minute as Griffin Bull was able to exploit an error by the Haverford defense. Bull booted a shot from 20 yards out, past Jeremy Astesano for a 1-0 lead to the visitors.  Haverford had plenty of chances to equalize before the halftime buzzer but Field saw a shot attempt saved by Samuels in the waning minutes of the first half, keeping the one-goal lead for the Shoremen.

At the halftime break, Haverford held an 11-4 shot advantage and out-cornered the visitors 7-1.  Jeremy Astesano was tested for one save while Samuels had six for Washington College.

The Fords came out of the halftime break determined to equalize. In the 49th minute, Bull drew a yellow card and picked up a second after a challenge in the 52nd minute, forcing a game misconduct for the second caution. The Shoremen were forced to play down a man. Nicholson sent a header try that went wide in the 57th minute. In the 66th minute, the Shoremen made a goalie substitution after an injury to Samuels.  Jonathan Luciani came into the contest and played valiantly, saving a direct kick from Corkery in the 68th minute. Jannelli had a shot attempt in the 69th minute that appeared destined for the back of the net, but Luciani again made a lunging save. In the 73rd minute of action, Haverford finally broke through.

After Maclyn Willigan hit the crossbar with a rocketed attempt, Nick John scooped up the rebound and fired his first career goal to equalize at 1-1. The score put the momentum back in the hands of the hosts as the Fords were able to control the tempo going forward.  The positive run for the Fords was nearly spoiled by a boot off the foot of Brian Wilkinson, which hit the crossbar and appeared to have an extremely good shot of finding the back of the net.

Undaunted, the Fords pressed on with a Walcott shot sailing high in the 80th before an 81st minute Reiss Berger boot was saved by Luciani. A Ryan Hill header off a Corkery corner was also corralled in the 83rd. John had an attempt in the 87th and Nicholson fired a last-ditch attempt before overtime.

In the overtime period, Haverford tested Luciani with an early shot from from Jannelli. The Fords then got the game winner after taking the ball from the Shoremen in the open field and playing it towards goal. Janneli found Nicholson with a cross and Nicholson converted his second straight game-winner to send the Fords into celebration.

Nicholson and Corkery led the Fords with six shots each, including three each on frame. Astesano improves to 5-0-2 with the win. Washington College was paced by Chris Lewandowski who had a pair of shots. The Fords improve to 27-12-5 all-time against Washington College. It was the first the first postseason meeting between the two squads.

The Fords will now quickly turn their attention to Franklin & Marshall tomorrow for the conference championship at 1:00 p.m. The winner of tomorrow's Centennial Conference Championship match will claim the Centennial's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.