Thomas College captured its fourth North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Men's Soccer Championship in six years Saturday after winning a penalty-kick shootout, 5-4, over Castleton at Smith Field.
The teams were deadlocked at 2-2 after 110 minutes of play and were in the seventh round of shots from the mark when London Steede-Jackson was able to find the back of the net for the deciding goal.
Shooting first, Castleton took a 3-2 advantage into the fifth round of PKs, needing only to convert against Thomas substitute keeper Jonathan Dutka to capture the title, but a shot by Solo Felekeni missed the mark. Lukas Bohman then converted to extend the match to extra shots. After both teams had successful attempts in the sixth round, Sawyer Shane took to the mark for the Spartans. Dutka smothered the shot to set Steede-Jackson up for the winning kick.
Castleton opened up the scoring in the 20th minute as Felekini headed in a service from midfield by Anthony Kirk. Thomas nearly knotted the score in the 24th but Pasic made a diving save on a header by DJ Nicholas.
Nicholas made good on a chance in the 33rd minute, though, putting away a loose ball in the box off a service from Tre Ming to knot the score at 1-1.
Thomas nearly grabbed the lead in the 62nd minute as a Nicholas challenge brought Pasic off the goal line. The scoring attempt was thwarted, though, as Eric Cross was in perfect position to make the defensive save.
The Terriers were given an opening in the 71st minute after Steede-Jackson was fouled in the box. Tre Ming converted the ensuing penalty kick to give Thomas a 2-1 advantage.
The Spartans knotted the match with 2:39 to play as Cameron Rossi-Crete placed a shot past a diving Joakim Sternas. Sternas, who was injured on the play, remained in the game through the end of regulation but yielded to Dutka to start overtime.
The Terriers had a flurry of offensive chances late, but Pasic held his ground, at one point making a sliding save on a point-blank shot by Ming with 1:43 to play.
Thomas controlled possession for most of the first overtime, hoping to use the sun to their advantage. Again, Pasic stood firm. With the waning daylight an obvious factor, he made a pair of saves to help send the game into a second extra session.
With the sun now an advantage, Castleton pressured Thomas in the second overtime only to see a couple of shots blocked by the Terrier defense. Thomas was not without its opportunities, though, as headers by Nicholas and Kyle Fletcher were swallowed up by Pasic, as was a shot by Ming in the closing seconds.
Thomas finished the match with a 27-11 advantage in saves and a 7-0 edge in corner kicks with Nicholas and Clemons credited with six shots apiece. Felekini has four shots to lead Castleton, while Steven Koenemann and Rossi-Crete had two each. Pasic made nine saves in total for the Spartans.
By virtue of winning the NAC title, Thomas (13-4-1) advances to the 2015 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship as the NAC's automatic qualifier. The Terriers will learn of their tournament draw on Monday afternoon during NCAA Selection Show, to be shown on NCAA.com.
At the conclusion of the championship tournament, the Conference also announced its all-tournament team. Thomas' Tre Ming was named the Tournament MVP after scoring a goal and an assist in final and adding an assist in Thomas' 2-1 overtime semifinal win over New England College.
Tre Ming, Thomas (MVP)
Willie Clemons, Thomas
Lukas Bohman, Thomas
London Steede-Jackson, Thomas
Adam LaBrie, Thomas
Amir Pasic, Castleton
Jake Tietgens, Castleton
Solo Felekini, Castleton
Austin Boisvert, New England College
Ronsard Masamba, New England College
Uriah Forest-Bulley, Me.-Farmington
Henry Ametti, Me.-Farmington
2015 NAC MEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Championship Match • Saturday, November 7
No. 1 Thomas 2, No. 2 Castleton 2 (THO adv. on PK's 5-4) - Boxscore
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