Springfield, Mass. -- September 3, 2011 -- Junior midfielder Alex Reilly scored the winning goal with just 3:15 remaining, allowing the Springfield College men's soccer team to complete a comeback and defeat Johnson & Wales, 2-1, in the opening game of The Springfield Invitational at the Irv Schmid Sports Complex earlier today. In the second game, Western New England University edged Westfield State University by the same score.
In the day's first game, the Wildcats of JWU opened up the scoring in the 11th minute on a free kick from 30 yards out. Freshman midfielder Cameron Pezzino (Grand Island, N.Y.) sent a shot towards the goal which caught Springfield junior goalie Chris Walton (Cromwell, Conn.) off guard before the ball found the top left corner of the net.
The Pride finally equalized the match with just under 14 minutes remaining in the second half. After a ball was crossed through the box, defender David Chessen (Edison, N.J.) settled the ball and beat his man to the endline. The junior captain then slotted a ball across the goal mouth to a wide open Michael Fowler. A sophomore forward from Maynard, Mass., Fowler was able to slam home the Pride’s first goal of the season just inside the right post. That tied the score at 1-1.
Springfield completed its comeback bid in the 87th minute as it benefitted from some terrific teamwork. Fowler took the ball down the right flank and crossed a ball towards the endline. Sophomore midfielder Danny Amato (Newington, Conn.) flicked a pass back towards the goal to an oncoming Reilly, a junior midfielder from Ledyard, Conn., who blasted home the winner.
Walton finished with the victory and needed to make just one save in the process. Anthony Sitek, a junior goalkeeper from West Windsor, Conn., was charged with the loss despite making nine saves in goal for JWU.
For the game, Springfield outshot the Wildcats, 21-9, especially enjoying a huge advantage in the second half.
It was the season-opener for each team.
Springfield will play neighborhood rival Western New England University Sunday at 2:15 pm in the tournament's championship match. In tomorrow's first game at noon, Johnson & Wales will battle Westfield State in the consolation.
Western New England 2, Westfield State 1
Western New England sophomore Jake Bartnik (East Longmeadow, Mass.) scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 64th minute to propel the Golden Bears past Westfield State in the Springfield College Invitational Saturday afternoon.
Westfield State drops to 0-1 on the season and will play Johnson & Wales on Sunday at 12 noon. Western New England improves to 1-0 and will face Springfield in a cross-town matchup in the 2:15 pm game on Sunday.
Westfield State got on the scoreboard early with a Justin Laliberte goal 6:06 into the first half. Laliberte, a senior midfielder from Easthampton, Mass., took a great feed from junior midfielder Jon Principato (Stoneham, Mass.) and slipped the ball into the right corner from just inside the box.
Bartnik responded with his first goal of the day for Western New England just 3:18 later. After initially losing the ball in a counterattack, Bartnick won back the ball at the top of the box and buried a shot into the bottom left corner to even the game at 1-all..
The score stay knotted at one throughout the remainder of the first half and midway through the second before Bartnik broke through with the eventual game-winner. After a scrum in front of Westfield’s goal, Bartnik emerged with the ball and snuck it by the Owls' netminder for the lead.
Westfield State senior goalie Jeff Pepoli (Ashburnham, Mass.) made 10 saves, while his counterpart, junior Nick Starr (Somers, Conn.) recorded three stops to earn the victory. Western New England outshot Westfield State, 17-12. Westfield held a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.