A 25-yard goal from Niagara midfielder Levi Tesch in the 73rd minute proved to be the College’s downfall as it failed to defend last year’s title at the 34th annual ODU/Stihl Classic in Norfolk this weekend. The College (2-2) bested Temple 2-0 Friday before falling to Niagara 1-0 Sunday.
Despite outshooting the Purple Eagles 22-12, the Tribe was unable to find the back of the net.
“We did enough to win,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “We felt for long stretches, we were in control of the game. But the goal never came.”
The match remained scoreless until Tesch, booked for a yellow card just a minute earlier, gave Niagara the lead with 16 minutes to play off a set piece. The Purple Eagles’s center midfielder curved his shot over the College’s wall, bending it near post past diving junior goalkeeper Andrew McAdams.
Despite consistent offensive pressure from the Tribe, senior midfielder Price Thomas’s shot was saved in the waning seconds of the match to end the College’s comeback hopes and give Niagara its first victory of the year.
Although Sunday’s loss spoiled the College’s chances of winning the tournament’s championship for the third time in four years, the Tribe performed well against Temple in the weekend’s opening match. Goals from Thomas and senior forward Andrew Hoxie were all the College needed to overtake the Owls.
Thomas’s mark in the 66th minute materialized off of a loose ball in the College’s half of the pitch.
“It was a great counterattack,” Norris said. “We took the ball in our half and played it to [junior forward] Alan Koger in the midfield. [Koger] sent it to Hoxie and Hoxie continued it on to Price. Price went one-on-one with the keeper and he finished it off.”
Hoxie’s first goal of the season came courtesy of a feed from junior midfielder Nat Baako with under five minutes remaining. The senior eluded a defender and hammered home the goal.
McAdams led the Tribe defensively, registering two saves in his first shutout of the year.
Despite a third place tournament finish behind host Old Dominion and Niagara, Hoxie and junior back Mike DiNuzzo were named to the All-Tournament team for the weekend.