WASHINGTON - The Catholic University men's soccer team suffered its first conference loss in its regular season finale, falling to Merchant Marine 2-1 in double overtime in Pennsauken, N.J., on Monday, Nov. 4.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals remain at the top of the Landmark Conference standings with 16 points, having clinched the No. 1 seed on Saturday when they beat Scranton 1-0. Catholic falls to 12-4-2 and 5-1-1, while USMMA earned its way into the conference playoffs, improving to 7-7-1, and 4-3 in the Landmark.
Fighting for their playoff lives, the Mariners jumped out to an early lead as Tanner Nestler ripped a shot from 40 yards out past Torsten Meuschke (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) just 4:54 into the action.
Neither team was able to take the lead in the second half, so the teams headed to extra time to decide a winner.
Catholic had three shots in the first overtime period but none of them got past Gary Poulin. CUA did not allow any USMMA shots in the first 10 extra minutes.
With a trip to the postseason on the line for Merchant Marine, things got very physical in the second overtime period. Simultaneous yellow cards were given to Kevin Romano (Freehold, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) and Nestler at the 107:54 mark. A Ben Fernandez red card in the goal box had him ejected from the game and lead to a penalty kick for the Mariners with 1:06 left in the game.
Kyle Arestivo stepped up for USMMA and beat Meuschke for the golden goal, giving the Mariners a 2-1 win and the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Landmark tournament.
Meuschke finished with three saves for the Cardinals. For the game, Catholic held a 21-to-13 advantage in shots, as well as a 5-to-0 edge in corner kicks.
No. 1 Catholic will return to action this Thursday, Nov. 7 when they host No. 4 Juniata in the Landmark Conference semifinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The two teams met on October 26 when Catholic shutout the Eagles in a 2-0 victory.
For more information on CUA men's soccer, visit the official athletics website www.cuacardinals.com.