Wild Finish Nearly Gives CMS Men's Soccer Comeback, But Centre Holds on for 4-2 Win

Adam Singer closed out his CMS career with two late goals to nearly lead CMS to a comeback (photo courtesy Trinity Univ.)
Adam Singer closed out his CMS career with two late goals to nearly lead CMS to a comeback (photo courtesy Trinity Univ.)

GAMBIER, Ohio - Down 2-0 with just over two minutes left, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team used two late goals from Adam Singer to pull within 3-2 and came inches from tying the score in the final minute, but Centre was able to get a breakaway off the ensuing corner kick to hold on and take a 4-2 win over the Stags on Saturday morning in the NCAA Round of 16 at Kenyon College. 

The loss ends the season for CMS at 16-4-2 as the Stags reached the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time since 1985. Centre moves on to the NCAA quarterfinal round against the winner between Kenyon and Montclair State. 

CMS fell into a 2-0 hole at the break after giving up a goal in just the second minute and then allowing a header off a long throw-in with just over 10 minutes left in the half. The lead looked like it was going to hold up the rest of the way, until Singer gave the Stags a glimmer of hope with a goal on a scramble in front of the net with 2:14 to play, closing the deficit to 2-1. 

Centre caught CMS pressing forward on the ensuing kickoff hoping to get a quick steal and played Nathan Wilcox in behind the defense up the right side. Wilcox was able to gather the ball in one on one with CMS goalkeeper Eduardo De Anda, and he slipped a low shot inside the left post to seemingly put the game away with 2:05 left, just nine seconds after Singer scored. 

However, the Stags refused to give in, and earned a quick corner kick at the Centre end. Junior William Birchard took the corner, and sophomore William Barton was able to head the ball off the crossbar and down. Singer was in the right place at the right time and was able to finish the play inside the goalmouth with just 1:30 on the clock, his second goal in a span of 44 seconds, to make the score 3-2. 

CMS then won possession off the next Centre kickoff and got the ball into its offensive third for a long throw-in. The throw-in from junior Kevin Proudfoot skimmed off Singer's head and off a Centre defender to first-year Justin Blachman just inside the top of the 18-yard box. Blachman took a low shot headed towards the lower-left corner that was tipped by Centre goalkeeper Haydon Korfhage and rolled tantalizingly wide of the left post, preventing the Stags from tying the score by mere inches. 

The Stags then sent everyone forward on the ensuing corner kick, including De Anda from his own net, to try for one more chance at an equalizer, but Centre was able to clear the ball out of its box. Wilcox then ran onto it, and had nobody between him and the CMS goal, dribbling for 50 yards uncontested before slotting the ball into the vacated net with 29 seconds left to make the final score 4-2 after a wild finish with four goals in a span of less than two minutes. 

CMS had given up only one first-half goal all season, but gave up the 23rd goal from Alexander Garuba this season just 1:59 into the game, when he converted off a pass from Will Newton following a Stag turnover. CMS sophomore forward Ethan Tyng nearly had an equalizer six minutes later, but his header clanged off the crossbar and stayed out. Newton then stretched the lead to 2-0 with 10:07 left in the half when his blind flick header off a long throw in from Carson Hart tucked inside the right post, giving the Stags their first two-goal deficit of the season. 

Shots ended up 18-18, as De Anda had a career-high nine saves in the losing cause. Korfhage had six saves for Centre to get the win, none bigger than the one in the final minute that prevented CMS from one of the most dramatic comebacks in NCAA history. 

The loss ends the career for the CMS senior class, including Adam Singer, who was the SCIAC Player of the Year as a center back and scored twice in his final collegiate game. Isaiah Alba, Tyler Chen, Justin Gadalla, Ethan Kable, Luke Scanlan and Cole Smith were also part of a senior class that went 31-6-3 over the last two seasons, while helping the Stags to their deepest tournament run in 34 years.