Halloween Treat for Seniors: Men's Soccer Qualifies for Playoffs

Monday, October 31, 2011

Their Senior Day may have been moved by Saturday’s snowstorm, but the seniors on the Muhlenberg men’s soccer team made sure their final regular-season game would be a memorable one.

Senior Tim Leischner found classmate Josh Luginbuhl in the 32nd minute, and the Mules added a pair penalty kicks in the second half, including one from

Josh Luginbuhl
Luginbuhl has scored four goals in the last seven Centennial Conference games.
senior Steve Giannacio, for a 3-1 win at Ursinus in a game that was moved from Muhlenberg because Varsity Field is still under snow.

The victory, coupled with Haverford’s win over Swarthmore, clinched Muhlenberg the third seed in the Centennial Conference playoffs and a semifinal matchup against Dickinson on Friday at Johns Hopkins. The Mules have qualified for the conference tournament all 11 years since its inception.

It also gave the Mules (10-5-1, 6-3) double-digit wins for the fifth straight season, and Leischner said he is very proud to uphold both of those strong traditions.

“Muhlenberg has always been a winning program, so to be able to get back to the playoffs is a good feeling,” he said. “We really needed this game today, so it felt good to come out and play well.”

Leischner wasted little time playing well. Less than a minute after entering the game, he made a run down the left sideline, stopped to create some space from the defender and sent a cross into the box. Near the penalty spot, Luginbuhl leaped in the air and sent a header into the upper left corner to put the Mules up by one.

“We haven’t had too many senior connections this year, so it was cool to get one in a game we needed to win,” Luginbuhl said. “I hadn’t scored in awhile, so I felt like I was due. Tim played a perfect ball, which made my job easy.”

A little more than five minutes into the second half, the Bears (3-12-3, 2-6-1) had a good chance

Ryan Barlotta
Sophomore Ryan Barlotta and the Muhlenberg defense allowed only seven goals in nine CC matches.
at the equalizer, but sophomore Jas Chojnowski made a leaping save to stop a shot just before it snuck under the crossbar.

Ten minutes later, sophomore Jeremy Katz was pulled down from behind in the box. Junior Nate Squire buried the ensuing penalty kick to stretch the lead to two in the 62nd minute.

The Mules added their final tally when Giannacio converted his penalty kick after sophomore Chris Royer was pushed in the box on a free kick in the 72nd minute.

Ursinus finally found the back of the net with a little more than five minutes to play, but it was too little, too late. Muhlenberg outshot the Bears 18-10, including a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal.

And while he said he was disappointed he didn’t have a chance to go through the normal festivities that come with Senior Day, Luginbuhl said he would much rather have a trip to the playoffs. Add in a berth in the semifinals, and he said he could not have asked for a better regular-season finale.

“This was a really big game; we needed this,” Luginbuhl said. “We came out and took care of business when we needed to most. It was a good win, and I’m glad we got a win on what was supposed to be our Senior Day.”
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