Bearcats Advance to BIG EAST Semifinals|
Nov. 8, 2010
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati men's soccer team advanced to the BIG EAST Championship semifinal match, 4-1 on penalty kicks, against No. 9/9 Connecticut on Monday night (Nov. 8) at Gettler Stadium.
After 90 regulation minutes and two overtime periods, the match went to penalty kicks, where the Bearcats (7-4-7) converted the first four and goalkeeper Matt Williams (Portland, Maine/Cheverus) made consecutive saves to help UC to its first BIG EAST semifinal appearance.
Nick Weightman (Lanark, Scotland/St. Aiden's), Branden Stelmak (Broadview Heights, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights), Matt Bahner (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West), and Roger Thompson (Brampton, Ontario/Graceland) each converted their penalty tries.
Weightman got the Bearcats off to a fast start in the 12th minute. A pass into the midfield from Mark Konitsch (Clarence, N.Y./Clarence Senior) found Weightman, who spun and lofted a shot over Connecticut goalkeeper Josh Ford, who was off his line. Ford entered the match No. 1 in the nation in goals against average, allowing just five goals all season for a 0.29 GAA.
The 1-0 lead lasted only about 15 minutes as the Huskies (12-2-5), who entered the match as the nation's leading scoring program, struck in the 27th. Stephane Diop cut to his right foot at the top of the box and after initially being stopped by a pair of UC defenders, gathered the loose ball and beat Williams to tie it a 1-1.
Both teams settled in defensively in the second half, limiting the chances for both squads. The Bearcats, who earned the bye week after finishing second in the BIG EAST Red Division, used their fresh legs to keep the pressure on the Huskies throughout the overtime periods, but could not break through the strong Connecticut defense.
Going to penalties for the first time since the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2003 at Kentucky, the Bearcats got the first PK from Weightman. UConn answered with a conversion from Carlos Alvarez. Stelmak converted for UC and Williams came up big with a diving save on a Thomas Wharf attempt.
The Bearcats put the pressure on with a cool Bahner conversion and Williams again made a diving stop on UConn's third shooter, Juho Karppinen. Thompson drilled his attempt, setting off celebration on the field amongst the players and coaches.
Cincinnati will take on Providence, the No. 5 seed out of the Blue Division, on Friday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m. The semifinal and final matches will be played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.