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Fairfield, CT -- Freshman Kalle Sotka (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinteen Sports) scored two goals, including the game-winner with just 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime, to lift the third-seeded Monmouth Hawks to their third straight Northeast Conference Men’s Soccer Title by defeating No. 4 Fairleigh Dickinson, 2-1, Sunday afternoon in Fairfield, CT.
In a fast-paced matchup between two Garden State foes, Sotka made sure his team would not be participating in their second penalty kick shootout in as many games with time winding down following a foul on sophomore Joseph Schmid (Kingston, PA/Wyoming Valley (Villanova)). Schmid quickly reset the ball and found Sotka moving down the left side. The All-NEC Second Team pick took the pass and moved up field before unleashing a shot that whistled 30 yards past a diving Jacob Lissek (Highlands Ranch, CO/Rock Canyon) to the far post, sending the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament.
Monmouth, which improved to 14-5-1 with the win, will now await word from the NCAA selection committee to see who the Hawks will play in the national tournament, and if they will receive a home game for the third straight year, boasting a 33rd-ranked RPI. Fairleigh Dickinson, meanwhile, ended its season with an 11-5-3 record after advancing to the NEC Championship Game as the No. 4 seed.
“The effort and the energy put forth by the guys all weekend was incredible,” said Monmouth head coach Robert McCourt. “I’m extremely proud of this group of young men and we’re looking forward to tomorrow’s selection show and playing in the NCAA’s.”
The Hawks, who advanced to the championship after defeating Central Connecticut State in a PK shootout on Friday, came out of the gates firing, outshooting the Knights 9-4 and taking an early 1-0 lead on Sotka’s first of the game in the 27th minute. In the midst of a scramble in front of the net, Sotka cleaned up a rebound and buried it to the near post after classmate Derek Luke (Bridgewater, NJ/Bridgewater-Raritan) rang a shot off the crossbar following a big save by Lissek laying in the grass.
Despite surrendering the goal, Lissek looked sharp through the remaining 18 minutes, finishing the stanza with five stops as Hawks outshot the Knights 9-4.
The Knights built off their netminder’s play and found the equalizer midway through the second half. With the ball bouncing loose in the box, Karlis Putans (Riga, Latvia/University of Latvia) gained possession and sent it to teammate Jonathan Gonzalez (Bloomfield, NJ/Bloomfield), who then blasted it to the open side of the net to make it a 1-1 game.
Both teams would play end to end from that point with MU almost ending it in the final minute of regulation. Lissek kept his Knights alive as he robbed Max Hamilton (Medford, NJ/Shawnee) from point-blank range before Luke’s shot was blocked.
Lissek finished the game with nine stops, with his last four coming in regulation. He remained untested through the first OT as FDU held the upper hand in shots, 2-1, with MU’s one attempt sailing wide. Junior Alex Blackburn (Natick, MA/Natick) recorded three saves, including one in bonus time. Statistically speaking, the Hawks outshot FDU 22-10 including 11-2 in the second half. They also held a commanding lead in corner attempts, 11-0.
2011 NEC Men’s Soccer All-Tournament Team
F – Reece Wilson (CCSU)
M – Antony Moore (FDU)
M – Jack McVey (FDU)
M – Derek Luke (MU)
M – Kalle Sotka (MU)
D – Ognen Stamenkovik (CCSU)
D – Marcello Castro (SHU)
D – RJ Allen (MU)
D – Anthony Vazquez (MU)
GK – Alex Fait (SHU)
GK – Jacob Lissek (FDU)
M – Kalle Sotka (MU)
2011 Northeast Conference Men's Soccer Championship
hosted by Sacred Heart University - Games to be played at Fairfield University’s Lessing Field
All Tournament games will be streamed live by NortheastConference.tv.
You can also watch on your mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad and Android phones,
by typing NortheastConference.TV into your browser and clicking on the game link.
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