Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
MEDFORD, Mass. – Tufts is NESCAC Men's Soccer Champions for the first time in program history. The top-seeded Jumbos (15-1-2) defeated No. 5 Middlebury (12-6-0), 1-0, in the NESCAC title game at Bello Field.
The deciding goal didn't come until the 88th minute. Zach Lane was on the right side of the field just outside of the Middlebury box. He sent a low cross across the face of the net and found a charging Brett Rojas who headed the serve into the bottom left corner to lift the Jumbos to the victory.
While the first half was evenly contested, Tufts outshot the Panthers, 14-4, in the second half.
Kevin Halliday was almost the hero in the final, after scoring Tufts' first two goals in the semifinal victory over Hamilton. In the 58th minute his well-hit strike was headed for the upper right corner of net, but Middlebury goalkeeper Jeremy Yeager was able to punch it away at a full stretch.
Middlebury almost struck first in the second half when in the 72nd minute Daniel O'Grady fired in a shot from the left side of the field and sent it curling towards the goal, but only found the top of the netting on the outside of the goal.
Then in the 83rd minute Gavin Tasker was fouled just left of the box to set up a free kick for the Jumbos. Halliday took it and found the head of Tyler Kulcsar next to the right post, but his attempt went just wide right.
Lane and Rojas combined for the game-winning tally five minutes later.
Yeager finished the game with three stops for Middlebury, while Connor Meith was credited with one save for his sixth shutout of the season.
Up next for the Jumbos will be the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. Tufts will find out who and when they play on Monday during the NCAA Selection Show that is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.