At the hands of second-seeded Mercyhurst (10-5-2), the Slippery Rock University men’s soccer team (8-9-2) closed out its 2019 season in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) tournament quarterfinal Thursday.
Originally scheduled to be played Wednesday, the game was postponed due to inclement weather in Erie. The Rock’s two game postseason win streak when matched against the Lakers was snapped in a 3-0 defeat.
Missing the talents of leading scorer Abdallah Bangura, The Green and White’s attack faltered for the second time in as many games. The team could only manage a pair of shots in the first period.
Mercyhurst, on the other hand, put off a barrage of shots in a span of 20 minutes. Four saves by senior goalkeeper Matt Hunsberger kept the game scoreless entering the break.
It took the Lakers less than three minutes to strike in the second half. Henri Tophoven, a sophomore midfielder, connected with the twine in the back of the net in the 47th minute. The marker was initially called back by an offside ruling, but was overturned moments later.
Subsequent opportunities to even the score from midfielders Cory Olix and Alejandro Fernandez were foiled, kept out by MU goalie Martin Jarc.
In a span of five minutes coming up on the 80-minute mark, Olix and Fernandez combined for four shots, three of which were blocked by Laker defenders.
Slippery Rock becoming deflated, Mercyhurst’s Salvador Rang made it exponentially harder for a comeback, netting a goal in the 81st minute. The Rock would only manage one more shot as the Lakers’ Salvatore Canzoneri scored added to the lead six minutes later, all but ending the game.
Mercyhurst doubled The Green and White in shots (18-9) and held a convincing advantage in both shots on goal (10-2) and corner kicks (12-1.)
As the Lakers advance to the semis to square off against Millersville, Slippery Rock turns the light out on its most successful campaign since running through the PSAC in 2015. If nothing else, the team overachieved if solely considering the conference’s preseason coaches poll, which predicted SRU to finish outside the playoff picture.
The eight wins under head coach Kevin Wilhelm are the most in four years. It was the second time in as many years that the program upped its win total from the previous season.