CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a defensive battle that saw just 13 shots taken from each team throughout the entire game, the first-seeded MIT men's soccer team fell to second-seeded Wheaton College, 1-0, in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship finals following a goal in the 79th minute at home on Sunday afternoon. The Lyons received an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division III Tournament, while the Engineers will wait to see if they will receive an at-large bid.
Although the ball spent the opening minutes of the game deep in MIT territory, the defensive-minded Engineers allowed just one shot during the first 14 minutes, which was blocked before it got too close to the net. Sophomore keeper Jake Amereno (Commack, N.Y.), who played a huge hand in MIT advancing over Coast Guard in penalty kicks in the semifinal yesterday, had his first touch a minute later, a diving save off a Wheaton free kick. It was not until 30 seconds later that Tech got its first shot, taken by sophomore Sean Bingham (Garden City, N.Y.), but the ball sailed wide of the cage. The Lyons had their first promising opportunity at the 18 minute mark when Brian Kenny took a shot from afar that went just wide of the posts.
MIT retaliated a few minutes later with two impressive shots at net. At 26:34, junior Nicholas Diamantoni (Boca Raton, Fla.) fired at the net, but the ball struck the crossbar and rolled out of play. Five minutes later, off a misplay by the Wheaton defense, Bingham broke through the middle of two defenders and ran directly at keeper Matt Dickey in the Lyons' net, but shot wide. With time running out in the first half, junior Gordon Glober (Jacksonville, Fla.) had a great sliding block right outside the box in front of the goal to prevent the Lyons from taking a shot on goal.
The pace of the second half was a lot more aggressive than the start of the game, as the score was still locked at zero and there were just 45 minutes left to play. Four minutes into the period, Amereno had a great save, diving forward out of the net to save a cross that was sent through the box. On the other side of the field 10 minutes later, Dickey had to jump to save a shot kicked by MIT junior Jason Adler (Scarsdale, N.Y.) off a free kick.
At the 63 minute mark, Diamantoni had another chance at a goal but his shot was pushed just over the crossbar by Dickey. Looking as if the game would be sent to overtime, Wheaton's Ben Altneu received a cross in the box and headed the ball past Amereno to give the Lyons a slight edge. The Engineers tried to battle back, but were held to just one shot in the remaining 10 minutes and the game soon ended.
Both teams took 13 shots throughout the game, with Dickey making three saves compared to Amereno's four. Diamantoni proved to be the most threatening of the Engineers, taking five shots throughout the game.