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October 22, 2011

Mariners clinch Landmark tournament berth with 2-1 OT win

SELINSGROVE, Pa. -- The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy clinched a spot in the Landmark Conference playoffs, recording a 2-1 double overtime victory over Susquehanna University in a Landmark Conference match on Saturday afternoon.

Sophomore midfielder Nick Cuellar could not have picked a better time to score his first goal of the season. He tallied midway through the second OT to lift the Mariners (9-6-1, 4-2-1) to the vital victory. Junior defender Kurt Olsen, whose pass set up Cuellar's game-winner, gave Kings Point a 1-0 halftime lead by converting a penalty kick.

The Crusaders (7-7-1, 3-3-0) equalized in the second half.

The Mariners will play either Catholic University or Drew University in the conference semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The final is set for Saturday, Nov. 5.

"We've played some terrific games and some so-so matches," Kings Point head coach Mike Smolens said. "We've got enough to win the conference for sure and do some damage in the tournament."

Olsen was fouled in the first half before he converted the penalty kick.

"We played very well in the first half," Smolens said.

The Susquehanna goalkeeper denied the Mariners an insurance goal, stopping Nick Vogel and Casey Desiderio.

In the first overtime, Merchant Marine junior keeper Gary Poulin was called on to parry a shot over the crossbar to preserve the tie and allow Cuellar to pull off some 11th-hour heroics.

The Mariners, who completed their regular-season schedule, will play the waiting game to see which school they will play at in the semifinals. Catholic (12-3, 6-0) needs a tie or a win with Drew (14-2, 5-1) next Saturday to clinch the conference crown.

Photo: The Mariners soccer team reached the semifinals of the Landmark Conference tournament again.