No. 6 Men’s Soccer Eliminated From NCAAs in Penalty Kicks

The men’s soccer team suffered a heartbreaking defeat in penalty kicks, ending the team’s National Championship aspirations in the Round of 16.

No. 6 Men’s Soccer Eliminated From NCAAs in Penalty Kicks
After winning the national championship last year, men’s soccer lost in the Sweet Sixteen in penalty kicks to the University of Mary Washington Eagles. Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios

The No. 6 men’s soccer team was eliminated in the third round of the Division III NCAA Championship tournament, as they lost to No. 18 University of Mary Washington Eagles on penalty kicks on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Like the Mammoths’ prior two games of the tournament, the game was played on the Mammoths’ home turf at Hitchcock Field. Right off the bat, the Eagles showcased their offensive skills, scoring less than a minute into the game on their first shot attempt. They continued to build on this early momentum, notching another goal in the 31st minute to put them up 2-0.

But the Mammoths are no stranger to deficits, and they battled back with grit and poise. Phenomenal movement on the ball from both Alex Shahmirzadi ’23E and Declan Sung ’24E resulted in a dangerous cross into the box, where Aidan Curtis 25, the Mammoths’ leading scorer from the regular season, was perfectly positioned to send the ball past the Eagles’ goalkeeper and pull the Mammoths within one. The teams would carry this 2-1 score into the half.

Coming out of the halftime huddle, the Mammoths were eager to put up a fight. In the 65th minute of play, their efforts were rewarded. Once again, it was Curtis who found the equalizer, this time off of an assist from Ada Okorogheye ’24E. Knotted at 2-2, the Mammoth defense stepped up. The remaining shots from the Eagles were all turned away by the defensive line and senior goalkeeper Bernie White 23E, including a picture-perfect save on a penalty shot awarded to the Eagles in the final minutes of regulation to keep the score knotted and force overtime.

Even with pressure from both teams on both ends of the field, neither team prevailed in the first or second overtime periods. In the first overtime period, a red card was assessed to a player on each side, resulting in both teams playing a man-down. However, neither team could find the back of the net, and the game would come down to penalty kicks.

Ultimately, it was not the Mammoths' day. After missing the first two penalty kicks, the Eagles went on to claim the victory 4-3 in PKs to advance to the Elite 8.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Head Coach Justin Serpone said after the match. “We fought all the way today, it just wasn’t meant to be.

“I hope that these guys remember how much passion and energy they just put into the last three months,” Serpone continued. “I know I won’t ever forget it.” The loss solidified the Mammoths’ 2022 record at 14-1-6. They retire this season with much to be proud of, including being crowned the 2022 NESCAC Men’s Soccer Champions. It was the final collegiate game for the team’s four seniors: Shahmirzadi, White, Nico Kenary ’23E, and Andrew Barkidjija ’23E. The remaining members of the team look forward to resting, reloading, and coming back stronger than ever next fall.