|Pat Codispoti||Connor Casey|
SCRANTON, Pa. - Senior Pat Codispoti (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Chaminade) scored the eventual game-winner off a free kick in the second half, lifting the second-seeded University of Scranton men's soccer team to a thrilling 2-1 victory over third-seeded Drew on Wednesday night in the semifinals of the 2016 Landmark Conference Tournament.
With the win, Scranton improved to 13-3-1 on the year and are now winners of six of their last seven matches.
The Royals now advance onto the Landmark Conference Championship Match for the second straight season, where they will take on top-seeded Elizabethtown on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. in Elizabethtown. The Blue Jays were winners tonight over fourth-seeded Susquehanna, 3-1, to advance.
In the opening half, both squads had some chances to score goals in the first 35 minutes of play, but came up just short. Things came to a head late in the 39th minute, as Scranton mounted a serious attack on net, as several shots either bounced off the post or were saved by Drew's goalie.
Junior Connor Casey (Hatfield, Pa./LaSalle College H.S.), however, finally finished the wild play in front of the net, putting a shot into the back of the net off a deflected save to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead.
For Casey, it was his third goal of the 2016 season and his third goal in his last three Landmark Conference tournament matches dating back to last year.
But, Drew bounced back before the half, scoring the game-tying goal with 42 seconds remaining to send the match into halftime knotted up at 1-1.
To start the second half, the offense was quiet for both teams, as only one shot was taken in the first 20 minutes of action.
After a Drew foul late in the 65th minute, Codispoti lined up a free kick chance from about 35 yards out, in a similar position on the field where he scored his first goal of the season against Haverford on Oct. 18.
And, once again, Codispoti delivered, sending a shot just past the Drew goalkeeper to give Scranton a one-goal lead they would never relinquish. For Codispoti, it was his third goal of the 2016 season and his first game-winner of the campaign, as well.
For the next 24 minutes, Drew sent everything they could offensively at the Royals defense in an effort to tie the match and send it to overtime. In the second half alone, the Rangers fired six shots, including a frantic final moments of the contest in which Drew had back-to-back corner kicks.
But, the Royals defense was up to the task, keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard over the last moments of the match (Drew did not attempt a shot on the final corner kicks) to send Scranton back to the Landmark Conference Championship match.
Overall, Drew outshot Scranton, 11-8 in the contest and held a 5-2 edge on corner kicks. In net, senior Eric Hintz (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) made two saves on the evening to collect the victory.
Scranton will now head to top-seeded Elizabethtown for the Landmark Championship Match on Saturday night. This marks the second straight season in which the Royals and Blue Jays will battle for the Landmark title, as Scranton was the victor last season by a 3-2 score.
More information on the match will be available on athletics.scranton.edu over the next two days.