Men's soccer enters NCAA tournament

The Marauder Men’s Soccer team enters the NCAA tournament for the second straight year coming off a disheartening PSAC Championship game loss. This one was a 2-1 setback to Slippery Rock University that saw goalkeeper Matt Langione ejected due to a red card. The team’s 12 game winning streak was also lost in the game.

That red card will carry a one-game suspension, which causes Langione to miss the first NCAA playoff game, a huge loss for Millersville.  Speaking of playoffs; the Marauders start the Division II playoffs Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. as the Atlantic Region No. 2 seed, and will play third seed Charleston.  The No. 1 and No. 4 teams are Slippery Rock and Mercyhurst respectively.  Slippery Rock will host the four teams over the weekend.

“Every loss hurts,” said freshman defender and Elco graduate Adam Keller, “This loss was especially tough because we worked all season for that, but now we get a second chance to see Slippery Rock in the NCAAs again at their place if we both win and there is no doubt that the team will be ready.

Last week the Marauders defeated Bloomsburg in front of 862 fans, 2-0 with goals from Kyle Loughlin and Pat Baffuto. Langione made two saves for his 17th win of the season, and it was also the team’s 13th shut-out of the season.  Bloomsburg played the Marauders extremely tough in the first half.  Millersville had different plans for the second half as Loughlin’s goal came 53 seconds into the half, with an assist to Jeremy Yoder.

Yoder found the ball as it was making its way out of bounds after a corner kick by freshman Adam Keller.  Yoder then made a sliding attempt to save the ball, and in that process sent a pass across the goal mouth to Loughlin’s foot to put it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.  The second goal came about 12 minutes later as Pat Baffuto scored his sixth goal of the season after a Dan Prian cross.  The back four again came up huge in assisting the team to a school record 13th shutout.

“Being a starting freshman at the beginning of the year was a little stressful,” Keller said,  “I have Thomas Bargmann, John Claffey, and Jeremy Yoder; 3 of the best defenders next to me who have had my back all season.”

The PSAC Championship was again heartbreaking for the Marauders. This time there was a 2-1 defeat as Slippery Rock scored the first two goals, with Millersville answering in the 61st minute. The loss proved tough to the Marauders as they lost goalkeeper Langione to a red-card and subsequential one-game suspension to open the playoffs.

The first goal came off a ball misplayed by Langione that allowed Slippery Rock’s Jeremy Deighton to score on a header at the 30 minute mark. Just three minutes later Langione touched a ball, barely outside of his own 18.  The officials deemed it intentional, giving Langione a red card on a call that changed the whole complexion of the game as Millersville played down a man the rest of the game. That card saw back-up keeper Kurt Pleier enter the game after seeing only 64 minutes of action during the season.

“I was very close to Matt before the foul, and it was definitely unintentional and unfortunate that the ball hit his arm,” said Keller, “A straight red is a consequence for being the last man back and committing an extremely hard foul.  It was unintentional and undeserving.”

Pleier played a solid game making four saves, even though a 51st minute goal by Iain Langstone made it a 2-0 game.  Millersville cut the deficit in half with a Loughlin unassisted goal in the 61st minute.  Millersville continued to control play, down a man, and nearly made the comeback complete if it weren’t  for Rock goalkeeper Greg Blum, who made two key saves to maintain the lead.

“It’s always tough to lose your starting goalie, especially when they are as good as Matt,  but, Kurt is a solid goalie who works hard every practice and our team has complete confidence in all our players,” Keller said. “Kurt’s added an extra level of attack to our offense with his long drop kicks and goal kicks.”