Nov. 9, 2008
Fairfield, CT - Both Sacred Heart and St. Francis (NY) entered Sunday's NEC men's soccer season finale needing a win to qualify for the playoffs. A tie or loss for either team meant the end of the season. After 110 minutes of soccer at Campus Field on Senior Day, the teams finished deadlocked at 1-1 and neither team will be going to the postseason.
The Pioneers went on top in the 27th minute as Senior Luke Gagliardi (Branford CT) made a great bicycle-kick scoring goal hitting the left side of the net as the Pioneers attack came on strong from right out-side the goal keepers' box. Gagliardi received perfect crossing pass from Senior Jason Tessitore (Orange CT) to put the shot on goal.
With both teams playoff hopes on the line, the intensity of the game picked up in the second half. The Terriers had numerous scoring opportunities with free kicks around the 18-yard box but could not capitalize. SHU goaltender Matt Jones (Stoke-on-Trent, England) made two spectacular saves in the 72nd and 73rd minutes as the Terriers were looking for the equalizer.
St. Francis' persistence allowed John Sallhag to score the tying goal in the 82nd minute. Sallhag received a crossing pass on a free kick by Jeverton De Lorenzi and, after Jones came out of his goal to try and cut off the ball, Sallhag managed to get a shot off even as the Pioneer defense swarmed around him.
After a Terrier was taken down in the box early in the first overtime, the Terriers were awarded a penalty kick. However Sallhag sent the ball high over the net and the game went on. The Terriers continued to knock on the door to go ahead as the header by Javier Gonzales was again wrapped up by Jones, who finished the game with six saves. The second overtime started off with a strong Pioneer attack as Gagliardi had a chance to win it in the opening moments but sent a shot just high over the crossbar.
Chis Antonino finished the game with five saves in goal for the Terriers, who held a 16-12 shots advantage in the game.
The Pioneer senior class finished its Sacred Heart career with 31 wins.