Penn State Abington, Morrisville State Advance to NEAC Men’s Soccer Championship Match

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The Penn State Abington Nittany Lions and the Morrisville State College Mustangs will square off in the 2012 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) men's soccer championship after each won their semifinal round matchups, which were both held at Germantown Academy's Casey Stadium in Fort Washington, Pa. Saturday.

The championship is set to be played at the same venue on Sunday at 1 p.m.

In the day's first match, Penn State Abington, the top seed and host of the tournament, picked up a 3-2 victory over the fifth seeded Penn State Harrisburg Nittany Lions, who originally advanced to the final four after upsetting the two-time defending champion and fourth seeded SUNYIT Wildcats on Wednesday.  It was a back-and-forth battle between the interstate rivals, as there were three lead changes in the contest.  Harrisburg got on the board first off an unassisted goal by sophomore Jon Willingham (Harrisburg, Pa.) 18 minutes into the game, but Abington sophomore Alex Martins (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) evened the score at the 35-minute mark, which is how the match would stay into halftime.

The second half was no different, with Abington gaining a 2-1 advantage on an unassisted goal from senior Matt Howard (Abington, Pa.) four minutes into the half.  Harrisburg wouldn't go away, though, tying the game at 2-2 on an unassisted strike from junior Justin Henderson (Cherry Hill, N.J.) that came at 63:03.  Abington took back the lead just five minutes later, as senior Julian Ward (Philadelphia, Pa.) took a cross pass from classmate Joshua Clinger (Hempfield, Pa.) and blasted the ball into the back of the net to give Abington a 3-2 lead that it would not relinquish, as they allowed Harrisburg to get just one more shot off the rest of the contest before claiming the victory.

The day's other match between the second seeded Morrisville State Mustangs and the third seeded Cazenovia College Wildcats was more of a defensive battle.  Despite a total of 15 first-half shots, the two squads played to a draw for the first 45 minutes of action thanks to strong defensive efforts on both ends.

The scoreless tie would be broken early in the second half, as sophomore forward Jacob Chase (Cooperstown, N.Y.) scored a goal from inside the box to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead.  That would end up being the final score, as Morrisville State continued their strong defensive play to seal the win and a trip to the conference championship.

Mustang freshman goalie Rob Larkin (Clinton, N.Y.) recorded his sixth shutout of the season while tallying four saves.  Wildcat senior goalkeeper Riley Battaglini (Endicott, N.Y.) finished with seven saves in the loss.

The Nittany Lions and the Mustangs will now meet for the second time this season, with Morrisville State claiming a 3-0 victory in their first matchup that would prove to be Abington's only conference loss this season.

*********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

The North Eastern Athletic Conference has thirteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania State University - Abington, Pennsylvania State University - Berks, Pennsylvania State University -Harrisburg, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Institute of Technology, SUNY Morrisville State College, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Hilbert College (M Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse) and Rutgers University - Camden (M Golf & M Tennis).  The North Eastern Athletic Conference has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of men's and women's tennis.