In a match that was key to its Landmark Conference playoff hopes, The University of Scranton men’s soccer team saved its best play for the most crucial moments.
The Royals scored twice in the final three minutes, including the game-winner from junior midfielder Rich Loeffler (Matawan, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy), to defeat Moravian, 3-1, in a Landmark Conference match on Tuesday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Field.
The victory propelled Scranton (9-2-3, 2-2 Landmark) back into the thick of the playoff hunt. The Royals now have six points in conference play, temporarily moving them into fourth place in the conference standings. The top four teams earn spots in the postseason. The Royals have three Landmark Conference matches remaining, including two at home.
Loeffler’s goal with 2:14 left in regulation capped a tense second half after the score was knotted 1-1 at halftime. His shot into the lower right corner off a feed from freshman midfielder Michael Bergen (Newtown, Pa./Pennington School) touched off a celebration and a sense of relief. The Royals had outshot the Greyhounds 14-2 in the second half up to that point, but had been unable to find the go-ahead tally until Loeffler’s goal.
Ninety-two seconds later, junior forward Kevin Kozic (Raritan, N.J./Immaculata) scored the insurance goal on another assist by Bergen, putting the game on ice.
Moravian (7-7-2, 0-5 Landmark) took an early lead on an unassisted goal by senior forward Jeffrey Algor (Spring Lake Heights, N.J./Manasquan) in the 13th minute. But Scranton answered back six minutes later when sophomore forward Nick Paganelli (Ossining, N.Y./Fordham Prep) scored on an assist by senior midfielder Bill McGuiness (Forty Fort, Pa./Wyoming Valley West).
Scranton had numerous other scoring chances, but Moravian sophomore goalkeeper Brian Boland (King’s Park, N.Y./St. Anthony’s) made 14 saves in the match, including a trio of standout diving stops. Kozic also hit the left post late in the second half while the match remained tied at one. The Royals outshot the Greyhounds, 31-6, for the match.
Loeffler and Kozic each tallied their first goals of the season, while Paganelli’s was his third. Bergen now has three assists, which leads the team, while McGuiness picked up his second.
Freshman goalkeeper Eric Hintz (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) made three saves for his ninth victory of the season.
The Royals will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Madison, N.J. to take on Drew University in a Landmark Conference match at 3:30 p.m.