This one is going to hurt for a while.
The St. Francis men’s soccer team fell 1–0 to Dartmouth in double overtime of the opening round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament on Nov. 17 — a disappointing end to an otherwise dominant season.
“I thought we played really well, but we just couldn’t get enough offense tonight,” Terriers coach Tom Giovatto said. “The defense was tremendous, and I thought we frustrated them [for much of the game].”
Matt Danilack notched the game-winning goal in the 104th minute of play on a cross from Alexander Marsh at the top of the box. The junior midfielder fired a low shot to the right corner of the goal, pushing the ball just out of the reach of Terriers goalkeeper Seth Erdman.
Dartmouth’s offensive front brought pressure throughout the game, out-shooting St. Francis 13–5. But Erdman, who started in place of the injured Roberto Bazzichetto, did his best to keep the Terriers (12–5–3) in the match. He finished with eight saves and, despite the final score, Giovatto was anything but disappointed in his keeper.
“Seth was sensational and kept us in the game with some terrific diving saves,” he said. “Unfortunately there was nothing he could do on the game-winner. I’m proud of the way he performed for us tonight.”
Both squads battled throughout the second half — combining for 10 total shots in the final 45 minutes of regulation. Salvatore Barone notched St. Francis’ best chance with just over two minutes left on the clock — his third shot of the game — but his attempt missed the wide-open net and the Terriers were forced to play in the squad’s second-straight overtime game.
St. Francis didn’t get many opportunities on offense during extra time, failing to record a shot in either overtime period. Dartmouth keeper James Hickok was rarely tested during the postseason tilt, finishing with just one save — on Dominick Falanga’s shot — in over 100 minutes of action.
“Ideally the best defense is to possess the ball and attack the other team, but when you’re doing that, you have to be organized so you don’t let them develop their attacks,” Dartmouth coach Chad Riley said. “[Defenders] Ricardo Gomez and Wyatt Omsberg really helped us stay organized when we were on the attack, and that really helped keep it away from our own goal for a large portion of the game.”
The Terriers were frustrated with the lack of offense and the late-game defensive breakdown — particularly after a season that was built on defensive dominance — but this year’s St. Francis squad is still proud of everything the team accomplished. The group didn’t give up a single goal in league play and clinched the program’s third Northeast Conference title in four years with a 1–0 victory over Saint Francis (PA) on Nov. 13. And, looking forward to next season, the Terriers are anxious to build upon that success.
“We had a great season and brought another championship to the school,” Giovatto said. “It’s disappointing now, but we’ll look back and remember all of the great things that we accomplished.”