Nov. 8, 2008
By Babson College Sports Information
BABSON PARK, Mass. – Christian Therkelsen scored the game-winning goal in the 61st minute as second-seeded MIT defeated sixth-seeded Wheaton College, 2-1, in the semifinal round of the 2008 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Men's Soccer Tournament at Babson College's Hartwell Rogers on Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, the Engineers (16-2-2), ranked fifth in New England, advance to Sunday's championship game at 1:00 p.m., where they will face top-seeded Babson. Fans can follow the Cardinal and Gray’s first championship appearance since 2005 via live stats and live video.
MIT opened the scoring just 2:19 into the contest, as Nitin Perumbeti chipped a ball over the defense that bounded toward an open net. Adam Talsma then charged in and headed the ball over the line for his second goal of the season. Wheaton would dominate the rest of the period, finishing the half with a 22-4 shot advantage, but keeper Tom Caldwell and the MIT defense helped keep the Lyons off the board. Caldwell made seven saves in the stanza, including a fantastic sliding denial of a point-blank shot by Eric Driscoll in the ninth minute, and David Nole added a key defensive play when he blocked a would-be goal by Driscoll inside the left post at 23:50. The Lyons also hit the cross bar during a flurry early in the period, as MIT survived the session with 1-0 lead.
Wheaton finally broke through early in the second half, as Driscoll hit a perfect cross to the far post from deep in the right corner. Yuri Moreira then one-timed a shot past Caldwell for his 12th goal of the season, knotting the score at 1-1.
Following two more Wheaton shot attempts, MIT finally regained the offensive momentum beginning with a breakaway attempt by Zachary Kabelac in the 60th minute. The rookie forward was denied by a great save from Wheaton keeper Cole Davidson, but the bid enabled the Engineers to set up deep in the Lyons’ zone. After earning a corner kick, MIT regained the lead when Max Stein-Golenbock hit a short pass to Jason Zhu in the left corner. Zhu then hit a long cross beyond the far post, where Therkelsen took it out of the air and scored his 14th goal of the year from a tough angle near the end line at 60:45.
Wheaton’s best chance in the final 30 minutes came with just 50 seconds left, when the Lyons earned a throw-in deep in the MIT zone. Jake Wagner fired a long toss into the box, but David Winrow’s ensuing header glanced off the cross bar and was cleared away. That would prove to be the final bid for the Lyons, as MIT held on for the thrilling 2-1 victory.
Caldwell finished with seven saves in the victory for MIT, while Davidson turned away six shots for the Lyons. The Engineers held on for the win despite Wheaton’s 36-15 advantage in shots and 9-3 edge in corner kicks.
Sunday’s championship game will feature a rematch of last Saturday’s regular season finale which saw Babson defeat MIT by a close margin of 2-1. In addition to the NEWMAC Championship, the winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.