WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Senior Cory Tobler
(Portland, Conn.) scored on a hard shot from the left corner of the
box that deflected off a Plymouth State University defender with
less than six minutes gone in sudden victory overtime as the
Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team moved into
the championship match of the 2012 Little East Conference playoffs
with a 2-1 victory Thursday afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field.
The championship match appearance will be the fourth in six years for top-seeded Eastern (16-1-1), which tied the program's 44-year-old record for victories. In Saturday's noon final, Eastern hosts the winner of a Thursday night semifinal between third-seeded Massachusetts Dartmouth and second-seeded Keene State College.
Ranked fourth in New England and No. 25 nationally, Eastern and fourth-seeded Plymouth State (7-11-0) traded goals late in the first half before Tobler gave Eastern its fourth overtime victory this year against a loss and tie with his fourth game-winning goal – seventh overall – of the season. The shot was the fifth of the match but the first on net for Tobler, who took a pass from senior Matt Furman (Montville, Conn.) on the left wing and cut toward goal at speed. With Furman stationed in front of the net, Tobler sent a low drive from the left corner of the box toward goal. The ball deflected off a Plymouth defender situated directly in front of senior keeper Bjorn Ohlsson (Halmstad, Sweden) and into the net.
Plymouth, which had scored three goals in a two-goal loss to Eastern at Nevers Field during the regular season scored first in the 40th minute when team scoring leader Parker Spear (Sodus Point, N.Y.) stole the ball at his team's offensive end line and slid it under Eastern senior keeper Jordan Munsell (Waterford, Conn.).
The Warriors, now 9-0-0 at home this year, needed just over four minutes to tie the match when freshman Arman Karbassioon (Cheshire, Conn.) scored on a one-timer on his first collegiate shot in his second (straight) career start. The play originated on a served ball into the box by junior Mitch Power (Douglas, Mass.). When the ball got knocked out of the box, Karbassioon ran on to it and nailed a low 20-yarder through a maze of players under a diving, but screened, Ohlsson.
Plymouth nearly ended a six-match losing streak at the hands of Eastern in the opener minutes of overtime, when a looping 30-yard shot by Plymouth freshman Petro Masumbuko (Manchester, N.H.) deflected off the foot of Eastern junior Jordan Clark (Manchester, Conn.) and took one big bounce toward goal, where Munsell took a step back, then leaped to snare the ball before it carried under the cross bar.
During the regular season, Eastern tied Keene State, 1-1 in double overtime Oct. 6 at Keene, N.H., and Tobler contributed the Golden Goal three minutes into overtime in a 1-0 verdict over UMass Dartmouth in a match which decided the regular-season champion last Saturday at Nevers Field.