The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's soccer team rebounded from a halftime deficit to capture a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over New York Institute of Technology in an East Coast Conference showdown at Spartan Field. The Spartans have now won five straight overall and stand at 8-2-1 overall and 4-1 in the ECC, dropping NYIT to 6-3-1, 2-1-1. With the win, STAC now moves into a first place tie in the conference standings with Mercy and LIU Post.
Entering this week's action, the Spartans were ranked #8 in the East Region in the United Soccer Association poll, and proceeded to capture a 1-0 victory over Roberts Wesleyan College on Thursday. Looking to score the road upset, NYIT came out quickly but ECC leading goalkeeper Jack Nicholson held them at bay until Xavi Senlik broke the scoreless tie at 26:23. Off a mad scramble in front, Senlik blasted a rebound off the crossbar and in for his third of the year putting the Bears on top.he
After their sluggish start, the Spartans were outshot by a 7-5 margin at halftime, but the momentum changed decisively after the break. Applying pressure from the opening whistle, the hosts drew even when Federico Scaglioni's perfectly-placed corner kick found a leaping Brad Neal, whose header at 68:08 was his third of the season. STAC's 12-2 barrage in second half shots was indicative of the play, but Nicholson and NYIT keeper Andrew Periera stood strong in sending the game to extra time.
With time winding down in the first overtime, an unlikely hero emerged for the Spartans. Lachlan Wilkinson had missed much of the contest after hobbling off with a first half injury. He was part of the starting 11 in extra time, however, and paid major dividends. George Yusuff's nice pass up the middle of the field proved to be a perfect ball for Wilkinson to run onto, as he split the Bears defense with a burst and sent a skilled shot into the far corner of the net to secure the victory at 98:19.
Nicholson made four saves in improving to 8-1-1 overall, leading the ECC in goals against at 0.55 per game. Tech's goal snapped a shutout streak of nearly 300 minutes, and St. Thomas Aquinas has yielded just five goals over its last eight games.
The Spartans will play their next two in a row on the road, with big conference matchups at Molloy on October 13 and LIU Post on October 17. They return home to play the University of the District of Columbia in a 1:00 pm start on Saturday, October 20.