PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Lasell University nearly pulled off an epic upset victory Saturday afternoon in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's soccer playoffs, but top-seeded Johnson & Wales University outlasted the eighth-seeded Lasers with a victory on penalty kicks in a quarterfinal game at Scotts Miracle-Gro Stadium.
The final score goes down as a 1-1 tie, but the host Wildcats won the penalty kick round, 4-2, to advance to the GNAC semifinals. JWU moves to 16-2-2 overall and will host fourth-seeded University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) on Wednesday, November 6, with an invitation to the finals on the line. Lasell wraps up its season with a 6-15-1 overall record.
The Wildcats got things started with a goal from Nick Gutekunst in the 20th minute of the first half, with an assist from Braeden Krakosky, as both teams were in the process of testing each other in the playoff atmosphere. Little did JWU know that Gutekunst's shot would be the only goal scored for the Wildcats in regulation and overtime.
Later in the first half, junior Takuya Tsuji (Japan) launched a beautiful free kick that beat the Wildcat keeper and equalized the match in the 36th minute. It was one of five shots that Lasell would muster the entire match.
With the scored tied at one, JWU ratcheted up the pressure in the second half, peppering the Lasell keeper with shot after shot. Senior Jackson Burhans (Berlin, N.Y.) held the line for Lasell and kept the tie solid in regulation, finishing the game with a season-high 12 saves.
Two overtimes did not decide this one, so penalty kicks became the focus. JWU's first three participants Riley Spotton, Nick Gutekunst, and Kevin Reilly all connected, while Lasell's Tsuji and sophomore Edson DaSilva (Hingham, Mass.) scored for Lasell but the Lasers had one miss. Then, the Wildcats JP Rioux blasted his shot home which paired with a second miss from Lasell and JWU advanced to the next round of the GNAC playoffs.
Lasell was making its first GNAC playoff berth since 2015 and recorded its most victories since 2014.
(Contributions from Johnson & Wales University Sports Information)
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