Men’s Soccer Advances to Semifinals

After clinching a birth in the MAAC Championship Tournament with a 2-0 win over rival St. Peter’s, the men’s soccer team stayed hot and advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament with a 3-0 win over the Sienna Saints.

Before they could focus on tournament play, the Hawks had to take care of business when they traveled to St. Peter’s with their playoff hopes still in question. The blue and white did just that, putting on an impressive performance against the Peacocks, and grabbing the fourth seed in the MAAC tournament.

Sophomore forward Dave Nigro led the way for MU, as he assisted on fellow sophomore, Brandon McCarthy’s, opening goal in the 14th minute, and then added a goal of his own in the 27th minute of play. Eric Klenofsky, the Hawks’ sophomore goalie, also played a key role in the victory with his 11th shutout of the season. Klenofsky made four total saves on the night, including two in the final seconds of the game that took away any hope the Peacocks had of a late comeback.

“It was a convincing performance today at a very difficult place to play,” said head coach Robert McCourt. “This group has so much character, and we are excited to get the tourney started.”

That excitement was evident three days later when the Hawks welcomed fifth seeded Sienna to Hesse Field at The Great Lawn for the quarterfinal round of the MAAC Championships. Despite being outshot 13-9 by the Saints, MU took advantage of the opportunities they did have and came away with a relatively easy victory.

After a quiet start to the contest, the Hawks began to pick things up and got off three shots while dominating possession for a span of about 13 minutes. Unfortunately, for the blue and white, freshman midfielder, Andrew Gee’s, shot was blocked by a Saint defender, and junior defender Derek Luke had his attempt saved by the Sienna goalkeeper, while his second attempt went wide of the net in the 27th minute.

MU was finally able to break through just two minutes later when sophomore midfielder Miguel Alves was on the receiving end of senior forward, Dom Sarle’s, cross, and headed it past the keeper to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute.

Just a little more than ten minutes later, the Hawks increased their lead when Gee and Luke were able to finally find the back of the net. In a play similar to the first goal, Gee received a cross into the box from Luke, and headed it in to make the score 2-0.

The two first half goals would be more than enough for MU, but they still came out aggressive in the second half. Following a Klenofsky save in the 63rd minute, the Hawks again pushed forward offensively and put pressure on the Sienna defense. This pressure paid off, and resulted in the Hawks third goal of the game in the 67th minute. This time it was Sarle on the receiving end of a cross, and he easily beat the keeper to extend MU’s lead to 3-0, which would ultimately be the final score.

Klenofsky was equally as impressive as the MU offense on the night as he had yet another clean sheet, his 12th of the year, and made seven saves on the night.

“I’m just happy for all of the guys on the team,” said McCourt after the win. “We’ve had to deal with some adversity this year and they never strayed. The locker room was always very positive, and I really think that they deserve this. We’re really excited about going into the tournament, and they’ve earned every step of the way.”

The Hawks will look to keep this momentum going on Friday, Nov. 14, when they take on the second seeded Iona Gaels in the semifinals. In their lone contest this year the Hawks fell to the Gaels 1-0 on the road. Kick-off is set for 10 am at Quinnipiac University.