ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. - It was déjà vu for the University of Scranton men's soccer team on Saturday night at Elizabethtown, as a first half goal by junior Connor Casey held for almost 80 minutes, as the second-seeded Royals knocked off top-seeded Elizabethtown, 1-0, in the 2016 Landmark Conference Championship Match.
For Scranton (14-3-1), the victory gave the Royals their second straight Landmark Conference Championship and the second year in a row that they went to Elizabethtown (13-3-2) and knocked off the Blue Jays to take the title.
With the victory, Scranton will now head to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, as the program will make their 16th appearance all-time on the national stage beginning next weekend.
In the win, the very first shot the Royals took in the match proved to be the difference.
Early in the 10th minute, senior Michael Bergen sent in the first corner kick of the night for Scranton into the box.
Senior Tim DiBisceglie then played the corner in the air, heading the ball to a streaking Casey who deflected the pass into the back of the net to give the Royals a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish.
For Casey, it was his his fourth goal of the year and his second game-winner. But, the junior forward continues to save his best moments for some of the Royals' biggest matches, as he has now scored in his last four Landmark Conference playoff matches dating back to last season
From there, the Scranton defense took over the match, but it wasn't without some tense moments over the last 80 minutes of action.
In the first half alone, Elizabethtown (playing with 10 men after a red card in the 29th minute) took five shots, three of which were on goal. But, each time, senior goalie Eric Hintz made a save, preserving the one-score lead for Scranton into halftime.
In the second half, the short-handed Blue Jays continue to fire away on Scranton, taking five more shots. But, the only two shots that reached goal were stopped by Hintz. With five minutes left, Elizabethtown took their final shot of the match, which was saved.
From there, the Royals salted the game away over the final four and a half minutes, as the Scranton defense pitched another shutout, their ninth of the 2016, to take the Landmark Conference title on Elizabethtown's home field yet again.
Overall, both Scranton and Elizabethtown took 10 shots, apiece, from the field, with E-Town holding the edge on corner kicks, 9-6. In net, Hintz notched his fifth shutout of the year, and the 24th shutout of his four-year career, as well.
Scranton now waits to see who and where they will play in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament next weekend. The Royals will find out their assignment on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.