The nationally-ranked No. 17 St. Lawrence University men's soccer team defeated Skidmore College 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at Sandy MacAllaster to claim the 2013 Liberty League Tournament title and an automatic bid into the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Senior captain Andrew Bednarsky scored the game-winning goal in the 65th minute, was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player, and led the Saints to their fifth tournament title since 2004 and the program's 18th NCAA Championship berth.
St. Lawrence (15-2-2), which avenged a 1-0 loss at Sandy MacAllaster Field to Skidmore on October 26, will await their first round destination and will be under consideration to host opening round play. Meanwhile, the Thoroughbreds fall to 12-6-2 after being outshot 14-7.
St. Lawrence would take advantage of their first scoring chance of the game to take a 1-0 lead a mere 8:15 into regulation. Bednarsky threaded a perfect through ball between Thoroughbred defenders to a cutting Jamal Samaroo, who laced a low shot past Skidmore keeper Eli Kisselbach for the go-ahead goal. It was Samaroo's second of the season.
Skidmore would rebound before halftime, as Nick Masiero tallied the equalizer at 37:28 off a feed from Brock Bakewell. With the ball near the 6-yard box, Bakewell headed a pass in front, and when St. Lawrence keeper Aaron Costello came out it to play it, he collided with a Saint defender. That allowed Masiero to collect possession and send a shot into the vacated net for a 1-1 tie at intermission.
The Saints picked up the offensive pressure in the second half, and nearly scored with 28:50 to go on a centering pass from Morgan Smith to Praveen Balakumara, only to see Kisselbach intercept the cross. However, Bednarsky would send his team and fans into a frenzy at 64:07, scoring the go-ahead tally off a pass from Mark Provost. Provost sent the ball into the 18 and Bednarsky showed great poise in chipping a shot past Kisselbach for his seventh goal of the season.
The goal swung all of the momentum in St. Lawrence's favor, as they created several more quality bids before Morgan Smith put the game away with an insurance goal with only 3:24 to play. Provost again set up the goal, sending Morgan into the box with speed on a 1-on-1 with the keeper, which he finished for the 3-1 lead to clinch the Liberty League Tournament title.
St. Lawrence outshot Skidmore 8-2 in the second half, as each team had one corner kick in the period as well. Kisselbach finished with four saves in the loss, while Costello closed with two stops for the Scarlet and Brown.
Bednarsky was named the tournament MVP, while the All-Tournament Team was comprised of St. Lawrence's Harry Copeland, Jamal Samaroo and Aaron Costello, Skidmore's Gildas Girimana, Adam Beek and Brock Bakewell, Vassar's Juliano Pereira and Tom Wiechert and Rensselaer's Matt Koziol and Jared Doolan.
As information about the NCAA Tournament becomes available, it will be posted on SaintsAthletics.com.