Upset-minded Panthers nipped in extra session
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Senior Cory Tobler scored on a hard shot from the left corner of the box that deflected off a Plymouth State University defender with less than six minutes gone in sudden death overtime Thursday afternoon as top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University eked out a 2-1 victory over fourth-seeded Plymouth State University in a Little East Conference men's soccer tournament semifinal match at Thomas Nevers Field.
The Warriors (16-1-1) advance to the championship match for the fourth time in six years as Eastern tied the program's 44-year-old record for victories. Eastern hosts the winner of a Thursday night semifinal between third-seeded Massachusetts Dartmouth and second-seeded Keene State College in Saturday's noon final. Upset-minded Plymouth State completes its season at 7-11 overall, with eight of its 11 losses coming by one goal, including three in overtime.
Ranked fourth in New England and No. 25 nationally, Eastern and Plymouth State traded goals late in the first half before Tobler gave Eastern its fourth overtime victory this year with his fourth game-winning goal and seventh overall . Tobler took a pass from senior Matt Furman on the left wing and cut toward goal at speed. With Furman stationed in front of the net, Tobler sent a low drive from the left corner of the box toward goal. The ball deflected off a Plymouth defender situated directly in front of senior keeper Bjorn Ohlsson (Halmstad, Sweden) and into the net.
Plymouth State, which had scored three goals in a two-goal loss to Eastern at Nevers Field during the regular season, scored first in the 40th minute when team scoring leader Parker Spear (Sodus Point, N.Y.) stole the ball at his team's offensive end line and slid it under Eastern senior keeper Jordan Munsell.
The Warriors, now 9-0-0 at home this year, needed just over four minutes to tie the match when freshman Arman Karbassioon scored on a one-timer on his first collegiate shot in his second (straight) career start. The play originated on a served ball into the box by junior Mitch Power. When the ball got knocked out of the box, Karbassioon ran on to it and nailed a low 20-yarder through a maze of players under a diving, but screened, Ohlsson.
PSU nearly ended a six-match losing streak to Eastern in the opener minutes of overtime, when a looping 30-yard shot by freshman Petro Masumbuko (Manchester, N.H.) deflected off the foot of Eastern junior Jordan Clark and took one big bounce toward goal, where Munsell took a step back, then leaped to snare the ball before it carried under the cross bar.
(Courtesy of Eastern Connecticut Sports Information)
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