Fords in a Thriller

Haverford - 2018 Centennial men's soccer champion
Haverford - 2018 Centennial men's soccer champion

HAVERFORD, Pa. – For the third time in four seasons, and fourth time in school history, the Centennial Conference men's soccer championship trophy went home with Haverford as the Fords (14-4) defeated No. 19 Franklin & Marshall (13-3-3) by a 3-2 score in overtime on Sunday afternoon. Nick Jannelli delivered the game-winning effort with 7:26 remaining in the second overtime to send Walton Field into a frenzy.

The championship contest was a rematch of the 2016 Centennial Conference Championship which was also won by the Fords. Haverford is now 6-1 overall on Walton Field as the top seed in the Centennial Conference Tournament as the Fords also lifted the championship trophy on their home field during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The program won its first Centennial Conference Championship during the 2012 season. With today's victory, Haverford secures the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will be riding an 11-match winning streak into its opening match during its return to the national stage.

Even though the match took over 102 minutes to decide a winner, the championship contest got off to a quick start as each team scored twice during the first 25 minutes. Co-captain Michael Carr got the day off to a blazing start as he scored his fourth goal of the season just under eight minutes into the championship game. His goal was set up by nifty passing from forwards Nick Jannelli and Peter Baroff to instantly take the crowd's enthusiasm to even higher levels. As was seemingly the story of regulation, the Diplomats were quick to respond as Jim Connolly scored on a direct kick just six minutes later to knot the score at one-all.

Centennial Conference MVP Peter Baroff, who also scored the game-winning goal on Saturday and had a hand in each of the Fords' four goals this weekend, got into the scoring act during the 24th minute of play.  Jannelli also played a hand in this goal as he put Baroff on the doorstep of goal, giving Haverford a 2-1 advantage. Once again, Franklin & Marshall returned the favor in short order. This time, it took the Diplomats just 1:33 to answer back as Max Geuder found the back of the net. Geuder's goal came off another F&M set piece as he headed home a free kick into the box off the foot of Ryan Fincher.

Despite the fast and furious start, the two sides would need another 77 minutes before the eventual game-winning goal was scored. The Fords held the better of the play for the majority of the afternoon as they racked up a 12-6 advantage in shots and a 9-4 edge in corner kicks. Haverford goalie Michael Iacono needed to make just two saves in the championship but came up big on a couple of crosses into the box that he handled before the Diplomats could do anything with those chances. Franklin & Marshall switched goalies at the half, with Christopher Amoruso making three stops during his time in net.

Haverford had the only offense during the final 12 minutes of regulation, but shots from Nicholas Montgomery and Sykes Cargile were both saved to send the match into overtime. The Diplomats had the first offensive chance of the extra period, but a huge blocked shot from Ben Clark prevented anything from reaching Iacono during the first overtime session. Baroff saw his first shot of the overtime saved with just over two minutes to play in the first extra period. The Fords also earned a corner kick later that period, but could not do anything with the chance.

During what ultimately turned out to be the only offensive chance the Fords needed in the second overtime period, Baroff and Jannelli were once again in sync on the offensive end as Baroff's fifth assist this season set up his classmate's 13th goal of the season. Baroff now has seven goals and five assists this weekend. He recorded six of his 19 points on the year this weekend during the Centennial Conference Tournament. Jannelli is now up to 35 points this fall.

With many alumni returning to Walton Field to watch their Fords hoist the conference trophy, Jannelli tied Mike Nelson '88 with his 34th career goal. The junior's 84 career points rank 12th in school history. Today's goal was the 14th game-winning effort of Jannelli's career. With seven game-winning goals this season, he tied the single-season school record set by Sam Yarosh '16 and Will Corkery '17 during the team's 2015 run to the Elite Eight.

Now assured a in the national tournament, the Fords will await Monday's selection show at 1 p.m. to find out their first round opponent and location. Haverford will be making its seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament next weekend. The Fords hosted their matches in the NCAA Tournament following Centennial Conference Championship seasons in 2015 and 2016.