ALLENTOWN, Pa. – On Sunday, the United States Merchant Marine Academy men's soccer team saw its magical NCAA run come to an end in the Elite 8 round of the national championship tournament when it fell to the defending national champions Messiah College, 3-0, at Varsity Field on the campus of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. Moreover, Messiah has won seven national championships in the past 10 years.
The first goal of the game came in unusual fashion in the 11th minute of play. After a Messiah free kick, the Mariners (13-3-5) were trying to clear the ball out and scored an own goal. The Falcons went ahead 1-0.
Ten minutes later, Messiah scored when junior forward Danny Thompson (Hudson, Ohio) headed in a cross pass from junior midfielder Tom Renko (Ephrata, Pa.). USMMA sophomore goalie Gary Poulin (Hauppauge, N.Y.) was able to get a little glove on the shot, but could not prevent it from hitting the back of the net. The Falcons grabbed a 2-0 advantage.
The first half winded down without any other scoring as the two clubs went into the halftime intermission.
Messiah (21-1) would record its third and final goal of the contest in the 70th minute of regulation when freshman forward Drew Frey (Dillsburg, Pa.) fired a rebound off a Poulin save into a wide open net.
The final 20 minutes of the Mariners' amazing 2010 campaign ticked down to its conclusion. Messiah will advance to play in the Final Four of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Final Four is familiar territory for the Falcons, as they have seven national championships to their credit.
Messiah outshot Kings Point (28-6) and had the edge in corner kicks (7-1).
For the Mariners, Poulin stopped six shots. Junior forward Andrew MacKenzie (San Diego, Calif.) had the team-high in shots with two.
Sophomore goalie Jake Berry (Bear, Del.) and senior goalkeeper Kyle Fulks (Fredericksburg, Va.) each recorded a save for the Falcons.
"After playing one of the best games of the season against Muhlenberg, we knew we would need the same type of match to contend with Messiah. They certainly were the most talented and deepest squad we have faced all year and in the end we couldn't match their level for 90 minutes. Surrendering on an early goal, especially an own goal, can be deflating, but we were pleased with the way the team responded. We created some chances and was disappointed not to be able to pull out a goal," Head Coach Michael Smolens commented after the game. "In the end, we just ran out of gas. I am very proud of this historical run the team made and the loss today doesn't take away all we accomplished. I am especially proud of our two seniors, Dan Twito and Lane Gould, who helped lead us all season long."
Although this marks the culmination of the 2010 men's soccer season for Kings Point, Head Coach Michael Smolens and the Mariners have much to be proud of and are extremely excited for the future of the program. The 2010 USMMA men's soccer team was the first Kings Point squad to ever reach the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Tournament.
For all the offseason news and notes pertaining to the men's soccer team, please continue to check www.usmmasports.com.