Selinsgrove, PA - The USMMA soccer team was eliminated from the 2013 Landmark Conference Tournament with a 3-0 loss at the hands of the second-seeded Susquehanna Crusaders Thursday night. The Mariners had never lost to the Crusaders at Sassafras Field before Thursday's semifinal and had defeated SU, 2-1 in overtime, earlier this season. USMMA finished the year 3-3-0 after a three week break in action due to the Academy shutting down beginning October 1.
"While Coach Fitzgerald, Coach Banks, and I are disappointed with tonight's loss, we are pleased with how well the team dealt with the challenges they have faced this season," said Head Coach Michael Smolens. "Coming back after the shutdown and dealing with some injuries to key players, our guys put in a great effort to reach the playoffs against some tough odds. Tonight we gave up two goals off set pieces, which cost us badly. When we were down a goal in the second half, we were forced to chase the game, which left us vulernable in the back. When we were not able to tie it up, they took advantage of it and put the game away. I am very proud of our team and all they accomplished this season."
Susquehanna (12-5-1) cracked the scoreboard on a set piece play in the 20th minute as Joe DeLuca found the back of the net following a corner kick from Dean Hristopoulos. The Crusaders controlled the action and finished with a 10-3 shot advantage in the first half while the Mariners were unable to tally a shot on goal.
Merchant Marine (7-8-1) got six saves from senior goaltender Gary Poulin (Hauppauge, NY) but the Crusaders defense continued to limit the Mariners chances in front of goal. USMMA began to push forward down the stretch but Susquehanna would take advantage of the pressure and move the score line to 2-0 with 11:20 to play in regulation on a Patrick Fry marker. The Crusaders sealed their trip to the Landmark Conference Championship game with an Andrew Murphy goal with 4:48 to play in regulation
The USMMA soccer team closes the 2013 campaign having earned a berth in the Landmark Conference playoffs in four of the last five seasons.