Seahawks battle to 1-1 draw with Leopards in conference opener

Vierengel scored the game's opening goal on Saturday
Vierengel scored the game's opening goal on Saturday

NEWPORT, R.I. - The Salve Regina University men's soccer team battled the Wentworth Institute of Technology for 110 minutes to earn a 1-1 draw during its Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) opener at Reynolds Field on Saturday afternoon. The tie moves the Seahawks record to 2-1-1 (0-0-1 CCC), while the Leopards are now 1-1-2 (0-0-1 CCC).

The Seahawks got on the board early in the first half when freshman Zachary Kraft (Tenafly, N.J.) set up junior Patrick Vierengel (Armonk, N.Y.) in the box for the opening score in just the 11th minute of play. "I thought we came out extremely well in the opening 20 minutes of the match and allowed our possession to dictate the course of the game," said Coach O'Rourke. "This was exemplified in Vierengel's finish from 6 yards on a chance that was orchestrated by our midfield and laid in front of him by Kraft."

The Leopards answered in the 37th minute when freshman Nick Cotter (Sandwich, Mass.) got behind the Salve Regina defense for a break away. Seahawks' goalkeeper Kyle Kureczka (Berlin, Conn.) came out of the goal to cut down the angle and made a strong save on Cotter's first shot. However, the keeper was unable to coral the save and Cotter collected the rebound and drove it into the back of the net for the game-tying score.

The score remained tied at one-all as the two teams headed into the break. The first half stats were as even as the scoreboard, with Salve Regina holding a slight 7-6 edge in shots while both teams took two corners apiece.

The Leopards seemed to gain the momentum in the second half, outshooting the Seahawks 10-6 in the period. The visitors had a golden opportunity to claim the lead in the 60th minute with several point-blank attempts. WIT senior John Geleski's (Wayne, N.J.) initial shot was saved by Kureczka and knocked right to the feet of the Leopard's Devin Richard (Smithfield, R.I.) who drilled the post with his ensuing attempt.

The two teams were unable to score in the second half, sending the game into overtime.

The first overtime period was evenly-matched with each team mustering just one unsuccessful shot each, and the game rolled on to the second and final overtime period.

The Seahawks had several excellent chances in the final period, including a strong drive off the crossbar by senior Christopher Knoth (East Islip, N.Y.), and a header by senior Sean McAllister (North Arlington, N.J.) that sailed over the goal in the final minutes.

In the end, both teams had to settle for a hard fought draw. As Seahawks' head coach Craig O'Rourke II said after the match, "This is a tough result for both sides as we each had chances over the 110 minutes to secure the result."

Both teams will resume play Wednesday at 7 p.m. with the Leopards traveling to face Mass Maritime, and the Seahawks hitting the road to battle Suffolk.