BRISTOL, R.I. – A goal in the 80th minute by freshman forward Lukas Benedetto broke a 1-1 tie and lifted second-seeded Coast Guard over sixth-seeded Endicott College, putting the Bears into the ECAC Championship tomorrow versus top-seeded Roger Williams University.
Benedetto gave the Bears the lead when he tracked down a bouncing ball into the box and beat Gulls keeper Austin Peluso for his first goal of the season.
Despite outshooting Endicott 11-4 in the first half, Coast Guard was unable to convert on any of their opportunities and the game went into halftime a scoreless tie.
Senior co-captain Greg Kennerley opened up the scoring in the 52nd minute, burying a penalty kick after Endicott was called for a foul in the box. The goal was Kennerley's fifth goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, Endicott answered back when sophomore Connor Gibbs headed home a pass from junior Alex Elia, notching the score up at 1-1. Gibbs nearly gave Endicott the lead just a minute later when he beat Bears goalie Richie Burns with a shot, but sophomore defender John Tarzian was there to made a diving save, preserving the 1-1 tie.
The Bears then came up with a scoring opportunity of their own in the 61st minute. Sophmore Matthew Bogdan sent a corner kick into the box, but Kennerley's shot went to the right of the post.
Burns made seven saves in the win, five of them coming in the second half. Peluso and senior Daniel Higgins combined each made two stops for the Gulls.
Coast Guard will be playing for their fourth ECAC Championship in program history after winning the tournament in 1995, 1998, and 2008. The Bears will be taking on host Roger Williams, who advanced following an 8-2 thrashing over fifth-seeded Husson College, at 1:00p.
"We are very excited to be playing Roger Williams in the final," said head coach Chris Parsons. "We had the run of play in the first half and didn't capitalize. After going a goal up, we lost our momentum and could have lost it. We scored a great goal on the counter and got it done in the end."