ETSU denied trip to A-Sun final in penalty shootout
ETSU denied trip to A-Sun final in penalty shootout
Friday, November 9, 2012

Game ends in 1-1 draw, Ranjitsingh saves two PKs to win shootout, 4-2

FT. MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 9, 2012) – For the second consecutive year, the ETSU men’s soccer team went to penalties in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship, but this time was denied a trip to the final by Ben Ranjitsingh and the Mercer Bears in the shootout, 4-2.

The two sides were tied, 1-1, through regulation and both overtimes, sending the game to the penalties. Atlantic Sun Player of the Year David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.) and A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Josh Shutter were both good in the first round. Ranjitsingh, the second-team keeper, stopped both Nate Hodges (Meridian, Miss.) and Alesi Osorio (Austin, Texas) in rounds two and three, setting up Carl-Oscar Andersson to convert the game-winner in round four.

ETSU (10-6-4, 5-2-1 A-Sun) had broken through in the 75th minute on a goal by senior Franck Doumbe (Silver Spring, Md.), but Mercer (11-6-2, 6-2-0 A-Sun) equalized in the 79th with a goal from David Murtaugh. The Bears went a man down in the first overtime when referee Jonathan Glover gave Jason Sayers a straight red for a foul off the ball, but the Buccaneers could not capitalize and were forced to take their chances in penalties.

“It’s difficult to lose in penalties, and it’s difficult to accept that our season is over,” ETSU head coach Scott Calabrese said. “Outside of the first 20 minutes of the game where we were nervous, the guys played incredibly well. They fought, created lots of chances and did everything we asked them to do. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to advance, but I’m really proud of the effort they gave.”

ETSU won the shot count 21-10, putting nine on goal to Mercer’s four. It was Ranjitsingh who saved the day though and ultimately put Mercer through to the final, making multiple diving saves and lasting the Bears through to the shootout. Ranjitsingh finished the night with eight saves.

“Their goalkeeper had an outstanding game,” Calabrese said. “We really tested him, but he was outstanding tonight. We created so many chances, but sometimes that’s how it goes.”

The first of those chances came in the third minute, when Geno sent a left-footed shot curling in toward the far post. Ranjitsingh fully extended to his right side, swatting the opportunity out of the top-left corner and back into play.

Keeper Ryan Coutler (Dublin, Ireland) held his own on the ETSU side as well. All-Atlantic Sun Second Team forward Richie Edmondson raced Coulter to a ball played forward in the early portions, but the A-Sun Goalkeeper of the Year dove out and saved Edmondson's quick-strike attempt. Coulter completed the game with three saves.

The two teams were scoreless at the half and even in shots at six apiece.

The Buccaneers came out controlling the majority of possession and implementing their will in the second half. In the opening 15 minutes, Geno, all-freshman defender Kristoffer Ibsen (Aalborg, Denmark) and second-team junior Blaike Woodruff (Georgetown, Texas) combined for four shots and ETSU sent in five corners. Ranjitsingh then came up with two more diving saves, stopping a header from Geno and denying redshirt senior Colin Pugh (Dublin, Ireland) on a shot off a cross from right in front of goal.

With less than 16 minutes to play, Doumbe opened the scoring with his third goal of the year. The second-year Buccaneer was given the ball outside the top-left part of the box, and made a couple moves before firing a shot that deflected off the leg of his defender, Sharpe Sablon. The deflection worked in favor of ETSU, jutting the ball out toward the far post and fooling Ranjitsingh who couldn’t come up with this attempt as it found the inside of the net.

Doumbe had a second opportunity just a minute later with a run up the left side, but had the attempt at the far post stopped by the Mercer keeper.

Shortly thereafter, the Bears equalized. Shutter served a ball into the box which Will Betts flicked on. Before Coulter could come up with the ball, Murtaugh got a head on it to level the score from five yards out.

Minutes after tying the game, Edmondson was sent through on a complete breakaway. Edmondson closed on Coulter from 20 yards out and went left, but this time Coulter made an incredible stop to keep the score where it was.

ETSU took control the rest of the half. With four minutes to play, Hodges sent in a corner that found Ibsen on the near side. The Danish defender headed a shot that beat Ranjitsingh, but smacked the near post and rolled out of play.

The game went to overtime where ETSU took all five of the chances combined in the two extra periods. Sayers was sent off for a foul away from the ball as ETSU was about to send in a corner in the 94th minute, but was backed up by his goalkeeper who came up with another save before winning it in the shootout.

ETSU closes the books on 2012 with its third consecutive 10-win season, but misses out on the A-Sun Championship final for the first time since 2009 when it lost in the semifinals to Stetson, 3-2.

ETSU Notes

- The Bucs finish the season with a record of 10-6-4, 5-2-1 A-Sun.

- ETSU suffered its first overtime loss in the conference tournament. The Bucs had been 2-0-1, advancing in the tie against Stetson in last year’s semifinals.

- Franck Doumbe scored his third goal of the season, and ends his ETSU career with five scores.

- Mercer now leads the series 3-1-2 against the Bucs. The game officially goes down as a tie.

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