The United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners (1-0) upended the Pride of Springfield College (0-1) Friday afternoon by a score of 1-0 in the first round of the Soccer City Shootout.
Although Springfield outshot the Mariners by a two to one margin (18-9), Kings Point controlled time of possession in the midfield and focused on generating high quality chances rather than a large number of opportunities.
The only and deciding goal of the match came off the foot of sophomore midfielder Kyle Arestivo (pictured) in the 14th minute when he launched a shot in the upper corner of the net from twenty yards out on USMMA's second shot of the contest.
Springfield's strategy was to keep as many fresh legs on the field as possible to attack the net. The Pride made a total of 30 substitutions throughout the match, and was extremely direct in their attack towards the Mariner goal.
However, USMMA was able to keep their defensive scheme organized and composed against a team who was down for most of the match and aggressively seeking the equalizer. Senior captain and two-time Landmark Conference defensive player of the year Kurt Olsen led the charge in the back along with junior defenseman Kyle Parker, and sophomore defensemen Ryan Gardner and Abboss Rezaie.
When shots did get through, junior goalkeeper Stephen Fucito was up to the challenge. In his first intercollegiate start, Fucito made four saves including a quality scoring chance in the 87th minute from Springfield sophomore midfielder Kevin Nowak to preserve the shutout as well as the victory.
The Mariners were able to advance to the next round after surviving a late flurry from the Pride. USMMA will face Eastern Connecticut State University (1-0), Sunday, September 2nd at 2:30 PM in the Soccer City Shootout finals. Eastern Connecticut knocked off host school and #23 ranked Western New England University by a score of 3-0 on Saturday afternoon.
"It was a good start for us against a physical tough opponent," said Head Coach Mike Smolens, as he looks ahead to Sunday's matchup. "Eastern Connecticut went to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year and will be even more of a challenge. It was a good test today and tomorrow will be a bit tougher."