CORTLAND, N.Y. - With the match knotted up 1-1 late in the second half, junior Gavin Coutts (Mendham, N.J./West Morris Mendham) played the role of hero, as he scored the game-winning goal with 3:50 left in regulation, lifting the University of Scranton men's soccer team to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Penn State Behrend in the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday evening on the campus of SUNY-Cortland.
With the win, Scranton (15-3-1) won their First Round NCAA Tournament match for the second straight season, and are now unbeaten in their last nine matches (they've also won five straight matches, overall).
The Royals will now move onto the Second Round of the Tournament, where they will take on host SUNY-Cortland Sunday evening at 5 p.m. The Red Dragons were winners in their First Round match over Morrisville State, 5-1.
In the opening frame, offense was tough to come by in the chilly conditions in Cortland. In all, only four shots were taken total in the opening half (Scranton took three, while PSU Behrend took just one shot).
But, on what turned out to be the final strike of the first half, the Royals converted, as junior Connor Casey (Hatfield, Pa./LaSalle College H.S.) headed in his fifth goal of the season off a free kick into the box by senior Michael Bergen (Newtown, Pa./The Pennington School), giving Scranton the 1-0 lead at intermission.
For Casey, it marked the third straight contest in which he scored a goal and the fifth time in his the last six elimination tournament matches (Landmark Conference and NCAA) that he has scored dating back to last season for Scranton.
Penn State Behrend, however, attacked back in the second half, knotting the match up at 1-1 on a goal by Anthony Crivelli in the 54th minute.
From there, both teams had some chances, but failed to convert over the next 30 minutes.
In the 86th minute, things came to a head as Bergen lined up a corner kick. He played the ball perfectly into the box, as Coutts was there to flick the ball into the back of the net to give Scranton the late lead, and ultimately the thrilling win.
For Coutts, it was his fourth goal of the season, and was the first game-winner of his season (and also his first game-winner since his freshman season of 2014). In the win, Bergen posted his fifth and sixth assist of the year in the victory, as well.
Overall, the Royals outshot Penn State Behrend, 8-5 and held a dominating 6-1 edge on corner kicks.
On Sunday, Scranton will play SUNY-Cortland for the seventh time in program history and the first time since 2014. All-time, the Red Dragons hold a 3-1-2 edge over the Royals, as they knocked off Scranton in their last meeting (1-0).