Tonelli, Diplomats Punch Ticket to Elite Eight

Tonelli, Diplomats Punch Ticket to Elite Eight

GRANTHAM, Pa. – Jason Tonelli's 93rd minute score gave the No. 14 Franklin & Marshall men's soccer team a thrilling 1-0 OT victory against No. 6 Cortland to send the Diplomats to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 2013.

F&M (15-3-4) will now take on No. 16 Calvin tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. in Grantham for a chance to advance to the program's first Final Four in program history, while the Red Dragons (19-3) saw their memorable season come to an end. 

Messiah, who fell to Calvin by a 2-1 OT score earlier in the evening, will host tomorrow's matchup. Fans can view the action online, here.

Just two minutes into overtime of a scoreless tilt, Robert Maze threaded a pass to Jason Tonelli on the far side of the 18-yard box who fired a shot into the top-right of the net for the game-winner. 

Cortland nearly broke the tie in the 71st minute of regulation when Ma'Cain Spragling had the Red Dragons best look at the net with a wide-open chance from 20 yards out. However, Diplomats' goalkeeper Dave Reingold sprawled out toward the crossbar and tipped the opportunity wide.

F&M came out as the aggressor in the opening minutes of the second half and nearly lit the scoreboard itself with a flurry of chances, including back-to-back close-range shots from Ugo Okolie that were twice blocked on the line.

In the first half, the Diplomats nearly paid for a miscue in the 18th minute when Reingold stormed out toward the edge of the 18-yard box and slid down to retrieve an errant ball off the foot of a Cortland forward. 

The ball careened off the senior goalkeeper and afforded Cortland's Ma'Cain an empty-net look from 25 yards out, but F&M defender Wyatt Fabian was playing the line and got in front of the shot to turn back the chance.  

Overall, shots belonged to the Red Dragons at 21-16 while corners favored the Diplomats at 6-5. Ben Draheim led the way with four shots, followed by Zach Colton and Okolie with three each. 

Reingold picked up four saves for his 10th shutout of the season and third in a row. Connor Young (14-1) was outstanding for Cortland but was dealt the hard-luck loss after stopping five shots. 

Tomorrow's game against Calvin marks a rematch of last season's NCAA Sweet 16 that saw the Knights edge out a narrow 1-0 win. F&M has never reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The Diplomats do, however, have a National Championship to the program's name, winning it all in 1952 - before there were playoffs to determine a Champion and a group of coaches crowned the 9-0 Diplomats after their perfect season.