WORCESTER --- Alex Crompton (Killington, VT) bicycled home a goal with just three seconds remaining in double overtime to give second-seeded Babson a stunning 1-0 victory over top seed and host WPI in the championship game on the 2019 NEWMAC Men's Soccer Tournament on Saturday.
The title is the eighth NEWMAC crown for the Babson and first since 2015. The Beavers, now 14-5-2, earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, which begin next weekend.
WPI, ranked fifth in the most recent NCAA Division III New England rankings, saw its 10-game unbeaten streak (8-0-2) snapped as they were defeated for the first time since late September. The Engineers are now 12-3-4 overall and await word if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Selections will be announced at 1:30pm Monday on NCAA.com.
The two teams played to a scoreless double overtime draw in the regular season NEWMAC opener back on September 21st. They seemed destined to be headed to another scoreless contest and penalty kicks to decide the tournament champion before Youcef Ziad's (Holbrook, MA) cross to the middle of the box about seven yards out from goal found Crompton, who connected on the championship-winning marker, his fifth tally of the season.
The match was incredibly tight, with Babson enjoying a slight 24-22 edge in shots and a narrow 6-5 advantage in corner kicks. Overtime was particularly exciting with the two teams combining for 11 shots (6-5 WPI) during the 19:57 of action. Both teams had excellent chances in the early moments of the second overtime as the Beavers sent a cross through the box that did not connect and WPI's Francesco Valagussa (Arlington, MA) had his bid saved.
Both goalkeepers were strong throughout the game. Steve Heintzelman (Middleton, MA) stop eight shots for the Beavers while registering the shutout while WPI's Rufus Adams (Duxbury, MA) also made eight saves on the day.
Saturday marked the seventh time the two teams had met in the NEWMAC Tournament and the first time since meeting in the 2014 final. Oddly enough, none of the previous six conference playoff games between the teams have been decided by more than a goal.