(New Haven, CT) – Freshman goalkeeper Matt Esposito (Wallingford, CT) turned in a spectacular effort in net, stopping eight out of nine shots, and sophomore forward Ben Rollins (Lee, NH) earned Championship Game MVP honors, scoring just over 20 minutes into the game as the Suffolk University Men's Soccer team captured the 2010 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship with a 2-1 win over Albertus Magnus College on Saturday, November 6 at Albertus Magnus College. With the win, Suffolk improves to 11-7-1 overall, and will compete in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
Esposito held strong during a first half barrage as Albertus Magnus (15-5-1) outshot the Rams 16-4 during the opening 45 minutes, but it was Suffolk who connected early as Rollins took advantage of an Albertus defensive misplay at 20:30, scoring into an open net via a pass from David Best (Westminster, MA) to make it 1-0. Just over four minutes later, Suffolk found the goal once again as junior Nick Cugine (Ridgefield, CT) finished a gorgeous feed from senior Luis Flores (Madrid, Spain), and the Rams took a 2-0 lead.
Albertus appeared poised to cut the lead in half late in the opening half when Falcon junior forward Jamal Howard (West Haven, CT) made a spectacular individual play and fired a shot that beat Esposito, but hit the inside of the left post and bounced away to preserve the 2-0 score.
Albertus Magnus finally found the scoreboard just over 13 minutes into the second half when sophomore Steven Zapata (Hamden, CT) connected on a free kick from more than 30 yards out to make it 2-1. However, from there, the Suffolk defense tightened, allowing the Falcons only five second half shots, and very few scoring chances during the remainder of the game.
Overall, Albertus owned a 21-7 edge in shots, and an 8-4 advantage in corner kicks, and controlled possession for a majority of the game, but the Falcons were unable to overcome the early deficit.
Suffolk will play in next week's NCAA Tournament, with the date, time, and location to be determined during the weekend. Albertus Magnus will await a possible bid to the ECAC New England Championship Tournament, with the participant announcement coming on Monday, Nov. 8.
At the conclusion of the game the All Tournament Team was announced:
Lasell - Matt Bruninghaus
Norwich - Roger Motaze
Albertus Magnus - Pete Hamasian
Albertus Magnus - Jamal Howard
Albertus Magnus - Steven Zapata
Suffolk - Nick Cugine
Suffolk - Nick DiCicco
Suffolk - Dan Lloyd
Suffolk - Ben Rollins Tournament MVP
Albertus Magnus defeated St. Joseph's College (ME) 2-0 and Norwich University 4-0 to advance to the GNAC Finals. Suffolk defeated Emerson College 1-0 and Lasell College 2-1 to advance to the GNAC Finals.