F&M Falls in NCAA Sweet 16 Heartbreaker

F&M Falls in NCAA Sweet 16 Heartbreaker

ONEONTA, N.Y. – The No. 15 Franklin & Marshall men's soccer team narrowly missed advancing to its second Elite Eight in as many seasons, suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to No. 3 Oneonta State on Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Sweet 16.

The defeat ended the Diplomats' year with a 16-2-3 record and handed F&M its first road loss since last year's Elite Eight matchup with Messiah, while the Red Dragons (20-0-2) advanced into tomorrow's sectional final against the winner of Brandeis and Amherst. 

Knotted up at 1-1 in the 75th minute, F&M was dealt a decisive blow when Oneonta's Jake Sutherland attempted a cross from the right side that was deflected off a Diplomat in the box, sending an unexpected deflection past goalkeeper Trevor Britton for the game winner. 

Oneonta came out firing in the opening minutes of the first on a nearly frozen field, sending a pair of scoring chances on net in the seventh minute that both sailed high over the cross bar. In the 18th minute, SUNYAC Player of the Year Dylan Williams broke through the F&M midfielders and got an open look at Trevor Britton but the Diplomat goalkeeper stormed out of the net for the diving stop. 

F&M managed to weather the storm and began to counter in the 28th minute when a Ben Draheim corner found Devon Malfitano on the far left side of the box, who sent a header that narrowly missed to the left of the net. 

With time winding down in the opening stanza, a Jared Bomba cross from the right endline found Connor Pellas from five out, who sent a deflection on net that sailed to the left as the teams went into the break with a 0-0 tie. 

Carrying over some late first-half momentum, F&M finally got on the board in the 54th minute, when Jared Bomba broke down the left side of the field and sent a shot on net that deflected of the hands of Oneonta's keeper and out to a waiting Ben Draheim. With the keeper still on the ground after the initial diving stop, Draheim took advantage, rocketing a shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0. 

The Diplomats' lead was short lived as the Red Dragons answered just 11 minutes later, sending a cross from the far right side of the field that deflected off of Oneonta's leading goal scorer Cory Santangelo's foot and past Britton to tie it up at 1-1. 

F&M maintained possession in its offensive zone in the closing minutes of the contest but was unable to get any scoring chances past a stout Red Dragon defense.

In a matchup between a pair of keepers that tied their respective program's single-season shutout records with 12 a piece, the play between the pipes was tremendous throughout. Britton (16-2-3) came up with a number of key stops, recording five saves on the day, but was dealt the loss, while the Red Dragons' Vincent Pellegrino (16-0-1) stopped a pair of shot for the victory. 

Bomba paced the offense with three of the Diplomats' nine shots on the game. Oneonta tallied 17 shots, including 12 in the opening 45 minutes of action. Sutherland led the charge with five shots, followed by four from Williams. Corners also belonged to the Red Dragons at 8-5.