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Clarkson Advances To LL Men's Soccer Finals

TROY – In the seventh round of penalty kicks, junior Mack Walton ripped the ball low and past the Rensselaer's goalkeeper to lift the Clarkson University Men's Soccer team past the top-seeded Engineers in the Liberty League Semifinals Saturday afternoon.

The Golden Knights moved to 11-4-4 on the season and advance to the Liberty League Championship game where they will face the winner of Hobart and RIT. The Engineers, ranked 12th in the latest national pool and previously 10-0-0 at home coming into the game, go to 14-2-3 on the season and will turn their eyes to the NCAA selection show for their next postseason game.

The Golden Knights knew what they were getting into against the Engineers, who own the best scoring offense in the conference, fighting to a 0-0 tie in the regular season. However, senior goalkeeper Ian Roeloffs and the Clarkson defense were more than up to the task turning away all nine shots by the Engineers in the first half, including four shots on goal. Clarkson's best chance came with less than a minute remaining in the first half when Mack Walton drove the ball into the RPI defensive end and put a right footed shot on frame, but Luke Brezek kept things scoreless with the save.

Much like the first half, the Golden Knights struggled to get shots to Brezek in the second 45-minute half. Clarkson's lone shot of the second half came with 13 minutes left when Walton passed the ball to Matt Adamou who spun and fired toward the RPI goal. Brezek aggressively stepped out to make the save and end the scoring opportunity.

RPI outshot the Golden Knights in regulation 9-2 in shots on goal and 18-4 in shot attempts. The Engineers also held a 7-1 advantage in corner kicks. The game would go to overtime where neither team was able to register a shot on goal in 20 minutes of sudden-death action. RPI held the advantage 4-1 in shot attempts in the two overtime periods.

RPI and Clarkson failed to score a single goal on one another in 220 minutes of action this year, but each was able to score frequently in the penalty kick rounds. The first four rounds featured goals by all eight shooters who came up to the line. Erick Naula, Matt Adamou, Cam Emde-Gerdine, and Brandon Bahr each picked up a goal in those rounds. In the fifth round of the shootout RPI's Joe DiMiceli fired a shot to the right side of the net, but what stopped by the outstretched Ian Roeloffs. With a chance to advance on penalty kicks, John Furcick stepped up to the line but was denied by Brezek, continuing the round. After another RPI goal, Henry Gomez kept the Green and Gold alive with a goal in round six, but the next round was the deciding turn. In round seven, Matt Menendez tried to beat Roeloffs to his right side, but hit the post to give the Golden Knights a second chance to take the penalty kick round. Walton, who scored three game-winning goals in the regular season, added an unofficial marker to his tally, burying a low shot to Brezek's right, sending Clarkson's team in two directions, some mobbing Walton and some mobbing Roeloffs.

RPI would finish the game with the edge in shots (22-5), shots on goal (9-2), and corner kicks (8-3). Ian Roeloffs was stellar once again, stopping nine shots and earning his ninth shutout of the year, one shy of the Clarkson single-season mark for goalkeepers (Vele Galovski had 10 in 1980). Brezek finished with two saves in the game.

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