Men's Soccer Strikes in 81st Minute to Defeat Stevens 1-0 in 2nd Round of NCAA's

MEDFORD – Tufts Men's Soccer posted an exciting 1-0 victory over Stevens Institute of Technology on Sunday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Bello Field.

Gavin Tasker buried the game-winning goal against Stevens

On a throw-in by senior Sterling Weatherbie, Jumbo sophomore back Biagio Paoletta was in front of the goal to head the ball across the goal mouth in traffic to junior midfielder Gavin Tasker who buried the eventual game-winning goal in the 81st minute past Ducks senior goalie Aaron Henry.

Tufts (14-0-3) had earned a first round bye while Stevens (17-3-2) advanced on penalty kicks over Gordon in the first round at Tufts on Saturday. The Jumbos registered the game's first shot in the fifth minute when Tasker broke down the left side and passed it to junior forward Joe Braun who found space in the middle of the field to get a shot off, but Henry made a great save to keep the score even early. Less than a minute later, sophomore midfielder Travis Van Brewer took a Tufts corner and serviced it into the box finding the head of senior back Sterling Weatherbie, but the ball went high of the goal.

The Ducks' offense got their first shot on goal in the 16th minute when freshman midfielder Adam Silva booted one on net that was saved by Jumbo senior goalie Conner Mieth. Stevens sophomore defensive back Jacob Curtis had a header go wide in the 18th minute as the Ducks applied good looks on Tufts' backline. The Jumbos pushed the ball down the field in the 23rd minute when junior midfielder Brett Rojas had a quality shot that was stopped by Henry.

Stevens had their best look of the first half when Curtis headed a ball that was serviced in to him on goal, but Mieth made a play on the ball to tally the save in minute 35. Tufts junior midfielder Zach Trevorrow had a chance to give the brown and blue the edge in the 40th minute, but his header attempt was denied by the Duck defense.

In the first half, Tufts outshot Stevens five to four. Henry finished the first 45 minutes of action with four saves to Mieth's two. The Jumbos generated two corner kicks while the Ducks created one. The game was chippy in the first half as the defenses were tenacious and the foul count was Tufts with 10 and Stevens with six.

The Jumbos had the first shot on goal in the second half when Van Brewer fired one from the middle of the field near the box that was saved again by Henry in the 50th minute. Weatherbie came up from the left side in the 52nd minute and shot one off his right foot that Henry stopped. Tufts continued to push the ball up the field and be aggressive when Paoletta put a shot on goal that Henry got in front of.

The foul count continued to rise in the second half as both teams looked to break the deadlock. In the 69th minute, the Jumbos generated three consecutive corner kicks as the Ducks defense wouldn't allow any ball to get in the back of the goal. On the third corner kick, the ball found the head of Paoletta, but it went wide right of the goal. Stevens came back down the field two minutes later and Silva attempted a left-footed boot that went wide left of the net.

Van Brewer hit the crossbar on a free kick after a Stevens foul in the 77th minute as the Jumbos continued to apply pressure. Tufts came back down the field two minutes later as Paoletta put another shot on goal that was saved by Henry as the Ducks defense wouldn't budge.

Then in the 81st minute, Tasker and the Jumbo offense broke through to give Tufts a 1-0 lead with nine minutes remaining. The goal was Tasker's fifth of the year and Paoletta picked up his first assist on the season.

The last shot of the game came in the 89th minute as the Ducks pushed the ball up the field when Silva had his shot blocked as the defense tried to get the ball into the Jumbo half.  

For the game, Tufts attempted 15 shots (10 on goal) to Stevens' seven (two on goal). Henry recorded eight saves while Mieth stopped two Ducks shots in the Jumbos' grind-it-out win. The brown and blue generated 10 corners to Stevens' one corner attempt. This physical contest resulted in 32 total fouls, 19 on Tufts and 13 against the Ducks as well as three yellow cards. Paoletta had a game-high three shots on goal. Both teams had 19 players participate in the back-and-forth game.

The Jumbos will be in action again next Saturday in the "Sweet 16" against Amherst. The site of the Sectional round has not been announced yet.


Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello


Watch the Game-Winning Goal ...