SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Freshman Gabriella Verde (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) scored her second goal of the season with under 10 minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime in No. 2 seed Wheaton College's 2-1 double-overtime loss to MIT in the semifinals of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament action Saturday afternoon at the Irv Schmid Sports Complex on the campus of Springfield College.
In a matchup for the fifth (Wheaton) and sixth (MIT) ranked teams in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) - New England Region poll, the No. 3 seed Engineers (14-3-2) grabbed a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the match on an unassisted tally by junior Merricka Livingstone (Palm Bay, Fla./West Shore).
MIT held that 1-0 lead into the 80th minute when Verde struck for the tying marker, heading in a cross from senior Emily Vincunas (Granville, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson Academy) with 9:43 remaining in regulation. Following a scoreless first overtime, the match appeared headed to penalty kicks when MIT junior Leslie Meyer (Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) knocked in a pass from classmate Emily Kuo (Chicago, Ill./Univ. of Chicago Laboratory) with 1:11 remaining in the second OT to send the Engineers to the NEWMAC Finals.
The Lyons (15-3-2) outshot the Engineers 20-13 and held a 7-1 edge in corner kicks, but were only able to get one shot past junior Meghan Wright (Devon, Pa./Conestoga), who made 10 saves to earn the win. Senior and reigning New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Defensive Player of the Week Lindsay Leddy (Warwick, R.I./Wheeler School) made three saves. She entered the match having allowed only one goal against NEWMAC foes this year, and that came in a 1-0 loss to top-seeded Springfield.
Wheaton will now wait and see if they receive at at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament. The Lyons have appeared in 11 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, dating back to 2000.