ALBANY, N.Y. — In the closest Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men's Soccer tournament in league history, No. 2 seed Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences claimed their sixth league title—and first since 2014—outlasting top-seeded SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry in a penalty kick shootout, 2-0, on a wet Sunday at ACPHS Soccer Field. With the victory, the Panthers claim the conference's automatic bid to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Championships.
Only one game of the tournament was decided in regulation with ESF using two first-half goals to hold on to a 2-1 victory to defeat No. 4 seed College of New Rochelle in the first semifinal. Albany Pharmacy bypassed No. 3 seed Berkeley College in a wild second semifinal that couldn't be decided after 110 minutes but Matt Houlihan's two saves in the shootout propelled the Panthers to their ninth finals appearance in 10 years with a 4-2 shootout win that ended at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday evening.
In Sunday's title game that kicked off at 3 p.m. in a steady rain, the Mighty Oaks expectedly took control from the outset—having entered the tournament with a perfect 9-0 league record, holding a 5-2 win over the Panthers in the regular season, and finishing their semifinal three-and-a-half hours before ACPHS—and held an 11-3 edge in shots, but Houlihan stood on his head again making eight first-half saves to preserve a scoreless deadlock at halftime.
The second stanza saw the Panthers find their legs and gained a 6-1 edge in corners and a slight 7-6 edge in shots, but neither team could find the back of the net and both teams managed only one shot apiece in the overtime sessions as the game finished a 0-0 stalemate and headed to a shootout to determine a champion.
It was Houlihan who lived up to the task again, making three saves on four of ESF's shooters and Mina Girgis and Kyle Jenkins converted for the Panthers to clinch the shootout, 2-0. Finishing with 18 saves over 220 minutes with one goal allowed and five saves in two shootouts, Houlihan was named Tournament MVP.
The Panthers will await their seeding in the USCAA National Championship and the Mighty Oaks will await a possible at-large bid when the 12-team tournament field is announced on Tuesday. Pool play begins on November 9 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. More information can be found at http://soccer.theuscaa.com.
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2017 HVIAC Men's Soccer Championships
Semifinals - Saturday, October 28
Championship - Sunday, October 29
#2 Albany Pharmacy tied #1 SUNY ESF, 0-0 (ACPHS wins championship on penalty kicks, 2-0) | Box
Matt Houlihan | Albany Pharmacy | Junior | Goalkeeper | Levittown, N.Y.
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Tournament Runner-Up and Regular Season Champions
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry