GNAC Champions! Falcons Win Shootout 6-5 over Norwich

Photo by Ron Waite
Photo by Ron Waite

Donato Piroscafo (Naugatuck, Conn.) made a crucial save on the final penalty kick by Norwich's Ryan Curley to secure the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament title for the Albertus Magnus men's soccer team as the Falcons won the shootout 6-5. With the win, the Falcons will make their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance as the national bracket will be released on Monday at 1:00 p.m.

Piroscafo, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, made six saves in the contest and finished the Falcons' playoff run with three shutouts and 10 saves without allowing a goal in three contests.

After 110 minutes of scoreless play, the Falcons and Cadets were forced into a shootout to settle the match. Stephen Zapata (Hamden, Conn.) went first for the Falcons and netted the penalty kick with ease before Norwich's Mike Ravenelle hit the post as the Falcons took a 1-0 lead. A save on the next Falcons' attempt allowed Norwich to tie it up at 1-1. Alex Zapata (Hamden, Conn.) drilled his attempt into the back of the next before Piroscafo made a great save to lift the Falcons to a 2-1 lead.

After senior Chris Long (West Haven, Conn.) scored for the Falcons, Nick Hamasian's (Hamden, Conn.) attempt was saved by the foot of Norwich's Greg Payne.  Austin Tomin (Hamden, Conn.), Angel Velasquez (Bakersfield, Calif.) and James Lucchesi (Norwalk, Conn.) scored for the Falcons to give them a 6-5 lead before Piroscafo's second save of the shootout.

The Falcons, who are now 15-3-3 on the year after today's tie, win the GNAC title for the second time in program history after winning the first-ever GNAC Tournament Championship in 1996. Today marked the Falcons' second appearance in the tournament final in the last three seasons.

Norwich (11-5-3) was led by Payne who made 12 saves in 110 minutes of work.

The Falcons outshot the Cadets 30-12 on the afternoon, including a 15-4 clip in the second half. The Falcons also held a 14-2 advantage in corner kicks.

The GNAC All-Tournament Team was also named as the Falcons had five members earn a spot. Piroscafo joined Stephen Zapata, Chris Long, James Lucchesi and Nick Hamasian on the team. Emerson's Jacob Lawrence and Patrick Lowndes as well as Lasell's Nery Guerra and Brennan Adams also were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Norwich's Billy Flanagan, Derek Morin, and Greg Payne rounded out the 12 members.

The NCAA Tournament field will be released on Monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. and can be followed live on NCAA.com.