Twice as Nice: Wildcats Repeat as NEAC Tournament Champions
UTICA, N.Y. – The SUNYIT Wildcats (9-5-4, 9-0-3 NEAC) won their second straight NEAC Championship on Sunday, 2-0 over 3-seed Penn St.-Harrisburg (9-6-2, 5-4-1 NEAC). The win capped off another magical season for SUNYIT, as all told the Wildcats took home Regular Season Champion, Player of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Coach of the Year, and NEAC Tournament Champion honors for the 2011 season.
Sophomore Joe Pfaffenberger (Chester, N.Y. / Warwick Valley) and senior Trevor Totman (Dryden, N.Y. / Tompkins Cortland) were named Tournament Co-MVP's for their efforts in the Wildcat win. Pfaffenberger finished the tournament with three goals, one in the championship game to give SUNYIT a 2-0 advantage, and Totman finished with two goals – both on penalty kicks. The second such goal came in the championship game, and gave the Wildcats the lead with just under 20 minutes left in regulation.
Goalkeeper and Player of the Year Malick Faye (Bronx, N.Y. / MLK) turned in another stellar performance, registering yet another conference shutout thanks, no doubt, in part to a suffocating Wildcat team defense. The Nittany Lions managed just three shots on goal on the afternoon, compared with 7 on the Wildcat side.
The game-winner for the Wildcats started on an outstanding play for the ball by Mario Gomez (Rome, N.Y. / Rome Free Academy). The sophomore midfielder tracked down a terrific pass deep in Penn St-Harrisburg territory, forcing a takedown from one of the Nittany Lion defenders. The ensuing penalty kick by Totman sailed easily into the net (top left-hand side), for what would ultimately be the difference-maker in the game.
After surviving a brutally contested game that featured 15 total cards issued by the officials, the Wildcats will advance to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. Game time and location will be posted as they become available.