Standish, Maine – Junior midfielder Alex Zapata (Hamden, Conn.) scored the game-winning goal to lead the Albertus Magnus College men's soccer team past Saint Joesph's College, 2-1, in overtime on Sunday afternoon at Westerlea Way Field in the opening round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament.
With the win, the sixth-seeded Falcons improve to 10-8 on the year and advance to conference semifinals where they will face No. 2 seed Mount Ida. With the loss, third-seeded Monks move to 11-7-1 overall.
Between the pipes, sophomore goalkeeper Griffin Volta (Orange, Conn.) made six saves to earn his seventh victory of the season for Albertus Magnus. On the opposite end, senior Scott Benner turned aside two shots in a losing effort for the hosts.
Saint Joseph's grabbed an early lead when junior Johnny Thomas scored off a Jesse Ramirez pass in the 13th minute and the 1-0 edge remained until the 70th minute, when AMC junior midfielder Matt Mueller (Cheshire, Conn.) knotted the match with his fourth goal of the season.
Both teams had several chances to take the game in the final 15 minutes of play, but neither side would convert until the 95:58 mark when Zapata unleashed a bending kick, from just outside the box on the left side, past the outstretched hands of Scott Benner into the top right corner of the net.
On the Falcons first tally, a foul on the Monks resulted in a free kick from just inside the center stripe by Zapata, who delivered a perfect ball into the box where junior Ben Colter (Guilford, Conn.) – in traffic - tapped a right-to-left pass across the goalmouth to Mueller, who punted the ball into a wide-open net.
The game-winner came after a missed opportunity by Saint Joseph's, a Falcon defender lofted a ball deep down the left side of the field to Zapata, who used some fancy footwork to find a shooting lane and scored a beautiful goal to end the contest in thrilling fashion for the visitors.
The Monks held a slight, 16-15, advantage in shots and took eight corners compared to seven for Albertus Magnus. The physical contest saw 23 fouls whistled and four cards handed out.
The contest was the 12th decided by one goal or less this season for AMC, with the Falcons posting a 6-6 marks in those tilts.
The win was the 15th in program history in GNAC Tournament play for the Falcons, as the visitors improved to 3-0-0 all-time against the Monks in the league tournament.
The Falcons and the Mustangs square off on Wednesday, November 4, at 3:30 pm with a berth in the conference championship on the line. Earlier this season, Mount Ida topped Albertus Magnus, 2-1, in Massachusetts. The Falcons will look to avenge the early-season setback and advance to the GNAC Championship for the first time since 2012.