SELINSGROVE, Pa. – For the third consecutive season the CUA men's soccer team has advanced to the Landmark Conference championship match after the Cardinals earned a hard-fought 1-0 road win at top-seeded Susquehanna on Wednesday. Mike DiMarco scored the winner for the defending league champs in the 61st minute.
"This was just a hard-fought, good soccer game," Cardinals head coach Travis Beauchamp said afterwards. "Both teams really wanted it; it was a physical game, they were pushing, we were pushing, and it was just a great soccer game to be a part of."
Unbeaten in its last ten matches, CUA outshot the Crusaders 13-9 on the night and had nine corner kicks to Susquehanna's three. The match was physical throughout as the teams were whistled for a combined 23 fouls.
The two goalkeepers combined for ten saves with CUA's Quiny Daly stopping five shots and Crusaders 'keeper B.J. Merriam doing the same.
During the first 20 minutes, CUA was awarded six corner kicks and got off four shot attempts. After that however, CUA was only able to get one more shot off in the opening half. The Cardinals defense was up to the challenge though, as it held Susquehanna to only four shots in the opening 45 minutes.
"In the first 25 minutes or so I thought we really played well," Beauchamp explained. "We were doing a good job of getting chances, but Susquehanna stuck to its gameplan and as the game wore on they gave us some problems."
He continued, "I thought we could have been better with our possession in the midfield, but they like to crowd the midfield and that allowed us to get some openings out on the flanks."
CUA's Brian Maher looked for the first goal of the night at the 49:37 mark of the second half, but Merriam stepped up and made a save. Kevin Romano's shot four minutes later went wide, but soon after the Cardinals struck for the game's lone goal.
The scoring play started with a corner kick by Smith who found DiMarco sneaking in behind several Crusader defenders. DiMarco headed the ball and found the back of the net for a 1-0 Cardinals lead at the 60:43 mark.
With the lead and time now on its side, CUA stepped its defense up to an even higher level, holding the Crusaders to only four shots in the final 30 minutes. The shutout is CUA's third straight and sixth in its last ten matches.
"Our backline was terrific all night," Beauchamp said. "Susquehanna has some dangerous goal scorers as evidenced by the three they got on us the last time we played, so I think this shows just how far we've come since that match."
He then singled out two key Cardinals in Wednesday's match. "Quinn Daly in goal was excellent and senior captain Tim Brady made a great play with about ten minutes to go. He was 20 yards behind a Susquehanna player and came in on a dead sprint to block a shot attempt; that was a great hustle play."
CUA will now travel to Kings Point, N.Y. on Saturday to take on the Merchant Marine Academy Mariners in the 2010 Landmark Conference championship match. The two teams battled to a scoreless tie on CUA's campus on October 2.
"At this stage of the season we're not going to change much," Beauchamp said. "We'll go back and review the tape and see what we can improve, but we're going to stick to what we do well. The guys were loose, but focused today, and we expect that to continue on Saturday."