The Lafayette men's soccer team captured its seventh Patriot League Championship, defeating American 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at Reeves Field. Goals by Kyle Scharfenberg and Peter Adubato led the offense, while Tournament MVP Nathan McDonald earned the shutout in goal.
The Leopards earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 and will find out their next opponent on Monday at 5:30 p.m. during the NCAA Men's Soccer Selection Show.
Twenty minutes into the match, Lafayette converted on its third corner kick and took a 1-0 lead. The corner resulted from a through ball by Blake Fink to Adubato that forced American keeper Billy Knutsen to play it out with his feet. Sean Peckham's service into the center of the penalty area was met by Scharfenberg's head and driven into the back of net to Knutson's left. The goal, at 19:58, was Scharfenberg's third of the year.
With Lafayette up 1-0 in the 32nd minute, American was awarded a penalty kick after Rob Bedson was called for a foul and yellow carded as the Eagles took their only corner of the half. AU's Alassane Kane stepped to the spot and took a low shot to the right side where McDonald dove and smothered the attempt, preserving the Leopards' advantage.
American earned a corner kick with 26 minutes to play and when the ball was sent to the far post, a scrum ensued and Nate Arronson was hit below his left eye. After the dust settled, American's Dale McDonald was sent off with a straight red card.
A little more than two minutes later, Lafayette capitalized on the 11v10 as Adubato scored on a brilliant individual effort. Adubato took the ball away from an American defender and then poked it past Knutsen, who came out to challenge. The Leopards' forward raced around Knutsen and tapped the ball into the empty goal.
The Lafayette defense continued to keep opponents scoreless, picking up its fourth straight shutout. McDonald and the defensive unit have not allowed a goal in 466:27 of game action, a stretch spanning five games.
McDonald posted his ninth shutout of the season and 12th of his career, making two saves in the process. Knutsen finished with seven saves for American. Lafayette outshot American 15-13 and took seven corners compared to AU's three.
For their efforts, Peckham, Scharfenberg, Alec Golini and Julian Plummer were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The 48-team field will be selected from 202 NCAA Division I institutions sponsoring the sport of men's soccer. Of the 48 teams, Lafayette and 21 other teams will receive automatic qualification with the remaining best 26 teams selected on an at-large basis. The top 16 seeds in the championship will receive first-round byes. The show can be seen online at NCAA.com and the first round will be played on Thurs., Nov. 15.
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