Shaun Taylor scores game-winner; named to NE-10 All-Championship Team
RINDGE, N.H. (November 7, 2010) – The No. 1-nationally ranked Franklin Pierce University men’s soccer team claimed the 2010 Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Sunday via a thrilling 1-0 victory over Bentley at Sodexo Field in Rindge. The Ravens ran their overall record to 17-1-1 and their unbeaten streak to 16-consecutive matches. Bentley fell to 11-3-6.
For Franklin Pierce, it was their second Northeast-10 championship in the sport and the first since 2006. Overall, Franklin Pierce men’s soccer has won four conference tournament championships as an NCAA Division II member, including winning the NECC titles in 1991 and 1995.
The Ravens had several opportunities to take an early lead, but shots from graduate forward Shaun Taylor (Isle of White, England) and sophomore midfielder Amory Houghton (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) just missed slamming into the back of the net. Franklin Pierce did hold a 6-0 advantage in shots during the first 25 minutes of the match.
Just as they did Friday night in a 1-0 win over Le Moyne in the semifinals, the Ravens did not get discouraged from early missed opportunities, but instead continued to fire shots on goal. That work finally paid off in the 34th minute when Houghton dribbled down the left-hand side of the field and slipped a pass towards a mass of bodies in front of the Bentley goal. Taylor out-fought a Bentley back for the loose ball and struck a shot that beat Falcons’ goalkeeper Mike Nikiforov to the lower-left corner of the goal for a 1-0 Franklin Pierce advantage.
For Taylor, it was his sixth of the season, which moved him into a tie for second place on the team in that category. Houghton earned an assist on the play as he registered at least one point in each of the three conference playoff matches, including blasting in the game-winning goal against Le Moyne on Friday.
Franklin Pierce took the 1-0 lead into halftime and came out in the opening stages of the second half looking to add to its lead. Houghton and Taylor each had another tremendous scoring opportunity, but Nikiforov was able to deny them yet again. Junior midfielder Paul Latif (Newcastle, England) also had a pair of breakaway opportunities, but Nikiforov, again, blocked away the shots.
It was now Bentley’s turn for an offensive surge and the Falcons did come heavy with some shots late. However, Franklin Pierce’s defensive unit stood tall in preserving the slim 1-0 advantage. The first defender to turn away Bentley was junior goalkeeper Vinny Papageogiou (Wilmington, Mass.), who made a diving save at the goal mouth to keep the shutout going.
The next two golden opportunities for Bentley were turned away by junior back Tom Reilly (Wallasey, England), who stepped in front of a pair of shots to deflect them away with under 20 minutes remaining in the contest. It was a fitting championship performance for Reilly, who prior to the NE-10 playoffs was named the conference’s player of the year.
Latif also came up huge on the defensive side as he came back from his offensive position to strip the ball from a Bentley forward with 11 minutes remaining as the striker was getting ready to rip a blast from 30 yards out.
Franklin Pierce out-shot Bentley by a count of 18-8, including putting seven shots on goal. Taylor recorded six shots, while Latif got off five.
Bentley put three of its eight shots on goal, but Papageorgiou stopped all three in earning the win to run his record to 17-1-1 on the season and posting his 11th shutout.
For their impressive performances throughout the three-match tournament, Taylor, Reilly and Houghton were named to the NE-10 All-Championship Team. Taylor also earned the Most Outstanding Player Award for his heroics in the championship match.
Franklin Pierce will now await word on its seeding for the upcoming NCAA Division II Tournament, which will begin next weekend. The NCAA will make its selections and announce them on Monday evening. To stay up to date on where Franklin Pierce will be playing next weekend, please visit the team’s page at athletics.franklinpierce.edu(.)
For more information on Franklin Pierce women’s soccer, please visit the team’s page at athletics.franklinpierce.edu(.) To follow the program even further, please visit Franklin Pierce Athletics on YouTube (www.youtube.com/FranklinPierceSports), Twitter (www.twitter.com/FPUathletics) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceAthletics).