Needing a victory to stay alive in the hunt for a Big East Tournament spot, the Seton Hall men’s soccer team gave away a lead in the final minutes of regulation, and ultimately fell 3-2 in golden-goal extra-time to Xavier, on the road, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Pirates came out with an intensity equal to the importance of the match. Pirates defender John Philbin found the back of the net in the 10th minute but witnessed his would-be-goal called back for offside. Fast forward to the end of the first half and Pirates goalkeeper Peyton Elder made a save with seconds left to keep an entertaining, physical match scoreless.
Xavier piled on the attacking pressure to start the second period, and the Pirates did well to repel numerous attacks from the home side. In the 58th minute, however, Seton Hall’s defense finally cracked. Simon Hestnes scored for Xavier, heading the ball in from close range following a rebound off the crossbar.
With their season on the line and half an hour to play, the Pirates responded extremely well to conceding. Andres Arcila equalized with a brilliant 63rd minute free kick into the far corner of the net, his eighth strike of the season. Minutes later, Elder made a huge save following a corner and the Pirates cleared off the line to keep the score at 1-1; setting up a grandstand finish.
Marco Neves looked to have won it for the Hall with five minutes left in regulation when he fired home a shot from the edge of the box, but Xavier answered dramatically in the 89th minute to force extra-time. After such a late goal to equalize, extra-time would either deliver ecstasy or heartbreak and in the end, it was heartbreak for the Hall. Matt Vasquenza, on his Senior Night, finished from close range to clinch a postseason berth for Xavier and sink the Pirates’ playoff hopes.
Seton Hall, now 5-10-1, will finish the season on Wednesday when they face Villanova at 7 p.m. The match will be the Pirates’ Senior Night and will honor 11 members of Gerson Echeverry’s team.
Kyle Beck can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @notkylebeck.