By Greg Klein
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — Colin Volpe gave Massachusetts Institute of Technology the hook Saturday.
Volpe scored the final goal of Oneonta State’s 4-2 first-round NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament victory in the 76th minute, connecting on a header from Ian Tenzer to steal the momentum from the Engineers.
“That wasn’t technically the game-winner, of course, but it was the game-winner in my mind,” said O-State coach Iain Byrne, whose team allowed back-to-back goals in a five-minute span after taking a 3-0 lead into halftime. “Colin was the first to it, and it hooked in for the winner.”
MIT (13-5-2) pulled to 3-2 with goals by Sean Bingham at 61:37 and John Kramer at 66:13, scoring on two of its nine second-half shots against O-State goalie Daniel DeBottis (three saves).
“I think if they had scored next and made it 3-3, I don’t know how the game would have ended,” said Byrne, whose Red Dragons struck back on a play that started with a corner kick from Addison Straub. “Instead, we were able to put them away.”
It seemed as if two-time defending SUNY Athletic Conference champion O-State, which reached the NCAA final four last season, already had done that with a three-goal cushion after 45 minutes.
Mitchell Cain made it 1-0 a little more than 13 minutes in, sending in a throughball from Justin Rivera off the left post. Eric Fortier headed in a cross from Sean Vinberg five minutes later for a 2-0 lead, and Alex Shkreli turned a cross from Daniel Josepher into a 6-yard goal about six minutes ahead of halftime.
“It was definitely nerves,” said MIT coach Mike Singleton, whose program qualified for the NCAA tournament with its first New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference title. “We’re a young team. We only have one senior and I think it took us the first 20-25 minutes to settle in.
“It’s like I put it to our players: Oneonta won the first half, and we won the second half, but that doesn’t mean we tied them,” he continued. “It just didn’t work out even for us today.”
The final statistics couldn’t have been much closer. MIT finished with an 11-10 edge in shots and Oneonta held a 4-3 advantage in corner kicks. DeBottis made all three of his saves in the second half, when counterpart Jake Amereno earned his lone save.
Byrne said he was impressed that MIT came back on his team, which went on to tie Montclair State in a second-round NCAA game back at Red Dragon Field on Sunday but failed to advance with a 4-3 shootout loss.
“As they say, there’s a reason they were in the tournament,” he said of MIT, which was seeded fifth for the NEWMAC Tournament before winning the crown to earn an automatic NCAA berth. “They were determined not to go out quietly. That first goal was a scrappy goal, and it really got them going.”