CORTLAND, N.Y. - The University of Scranton men's soccer team gave host SUNY-Cortland all they could handle down the stretch, but the Royals were unable to come all the way back from a 2-0 halftime deficit, falling 2-1 to the host Red Dragons in the Second Round of the 2016 NCAA Division III Tournament on Sunday evening.
With the defeat, Scranton was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, ending the year with a 15-4-1 overall mark.
To kick off the contest, the Royals came out firing, taking three shots within the first couple of minutes of action.
The best chance for Scranton, however, came three minutes into the match, as junior Gavin Coutts (Mendham, N.J./West Morris Mendham) sprung open and had a clear shot on net, only to have it just go wide to keep the match scoreless.
Over the next 20-plus minutes, both teams narrowly missed chances to score, as Scranton had three shots saved in this time frame. The Scranton defense also held throughout this time, as Cortland began to attack more as the period wore on.
Unfortunately for Scranton, the host Red Dragons were able to cash in on a chance late in the 28th minute, as Ma'Cain Spargling picked the right time to score his first goal of the year, giving Cortland the early 1-0 lead.
The Red Dragons then extended the lead out to 2-0 in the 35th minute, as Tyler Kirschner scored to give Cortland a 2-0 lead that held into intermission. Scranton went into the break down by two goals, despite the fact that they matched the Red Dragons with seven shots, apiece.
In the second frame, Scranton picked up the tempo on offense, and finally in the 58th minute, found the back of the net on a chance.
There, senior Henry Bonilla (Fairless Hills, Pa./The Pennington School) found junior Connor Casey (Hatfield, Pa./LaSalle College H.S.) in the middle of the pitch, and the junior delivered a shot that went just above the head of Cortland's goalie and into the net, slicing the Red Dragon lead in half to 2-1 with just over 30 minutes left in regulation.
For Casey, it continued his streak of offensive dominance at the end of the season, as he scored in Scranton's last four matches. Bonilla, meanwhile, notched his first assist of the season on the play, as well.
The goal lifted the spirits of the Royals, and for the next 25-plus minutes, they attacked the Cortland defense at will. But, each shot Scranton took could not find the back of the net.
Senior Tim DiBisceglie (Mine Hill, N.J./Gill St. Benard's School) came the closest to getting the equalizer over this time frame, as he had two shots saved, one blocked, and one hit the post.
The final shot taken by Scranton in the match came in the 82nd minute, which was once again saved. A last gasp chance came with under a minute left after a Cortland penalty, but a free kick sailed out of bounds, clinching the win for the Red Dragons.
Overall, Scranton held the edge in shots, outshooting Cortland, 20-13. In the second half alone, the Royals outshot the Red Dragons 13-6, but had four of their five shots on goal stopped by Cortland goalie Connor Young (who made seven total saves in the match).
Despite dropping tonight's match, it was another successful season for the Royals, as they both won the Landmark Conference Championship and captured a match in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.
The 15 victories are also the most for a Scranton team in a season since 2012, and is only the third time since the 1993 season that the Royals won at least 15 contests in a single season, as well.