Rock men’s soccer beats Gannon, clinches playoff spot
The Slippery Rock men’s soccer team upset Gannon University 2-1 Wednesday to clinch a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs.
Heading into the game, the Rock was coming off of a 0-0 double overtime tie against West Virginia Wesleyan College on Saturday.
The tie kept the team in the running for a playoff spot but did not guarantee them anything.
Senior defender Drew Donoghue was extremely proud of the team’s performance and the win over Gannon.
“Gannon is a very talented team,” Donoghue said. “To beat them, especially on their senior night, was awesome. They have had a great season and are currently ranked 12th in the nation. To beat a team of this caliber is always an accomplishment.”
SRU was the first to find the goal at the 15th minute mark with a shot from freshman midfielder Ryan Lutke.
Gannon’s Tyler Hollingsworth found the net in the 31st minute to tie the game 1-1.
Sophomore forward Stephen Donnelly said that the Knight’s goal didn’t affect the team’s focus heading into the second half.
“We kept the same mentality that we had in the first half,” Donnelly said. “We knew if we stuck to our game plan and kept playing the way we were playing, we would come out on top.”
Slippery Rock came out firing in the second half with several shots on goal and a solid performance by the defense.
They capitalized on a scoring opportunity in the 68th minute with a goal from sophomore midfielder Brandon Chiu.
The game winning goal came off of a long pass across the field from Donnelly, earning him an assist on the play. The score remained 2-1 the rest of the game, allowing the Green and White to claim a spot in the playoffs.
Senior goalkeeper Clayton Master made three saves in goal to earn the win.
“It’s unbelievable,” Donnelly said. “I can’t even explain the emotions we were feeling after the game. We knew if we got the result we would secure playoffs. It was an amazing feeling to get the win.”
The team has missed playoffs the past two seasons after winning the conference against Millersville University 2-1 in 2009. SRU also made it to the second round of the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament, losing 3-2 to the University of Charleston.
Donoghue was a part of the 2009 time and is grateful for the opportunity to be in the playoffs again during his senior year.
“It’s so rewarding to make it into the playoffs,” Donoghue said. “That’s always a team goal and we plan to take advantage of this opportunity, win the PSAC and make it to the national tournament. Being an upperclassman and a senior, I couldn’t be more pleased with the team and the effort they put in day in and day out.”
Everything is coming together for the team, Donoghue said.
“I wish we would’ve been playing this type of soccer from the beginning of the season,” Donoghue said. “Teams should not want to play us and worry about playing Slippery Rock. We’re in the playoffs and that’s all that matters now.”
Slippery Rock will close out their regular season with a PSAC match against Lock Haven University Saturday at 12 p.m.
Despite already having a playoff spot, Donnelly said the team is not going to play it safe against the Bald Eagles.
“We’re going to come out flying against Lock Haven to close out our regular season with a win,” Donnelly said.
The PSAC Quarterfinals start on Tuesday. The Rock will find out who they will be playing and where after their match against Lock Haven.