Beavers Punch Ticket to NCAA Tournament with First NEWMAC Tournament Crown Since 2015
WORCESTER, Mass.—Senior Alex Crompton (Killington, Vt.) put away classmate Youcef Ziad's (Holbrook, Mass.) cross from the right wing with a bicycle kick in the 110th minute to hand second-seeded Babson College a dramatic 1-0 win over top-seeded WPI in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament final on Saturday evening inside Alumni Stadium.
Babson, which has won nine of its last 10 matches, improves to 14-5-2 overall with its first conference tournament crown since 2015. The Beavers also earn the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. WPI, which had been unbeaten over its last 10 matches, slips to 12-3-4 on the year and now must wait to see if it receives an at-large bid to the tournament when the field is announced on Monday.
The victory by Babson also made it nine consecutive seasons that the NEWMAC regular season champion has failed to capture the league's conference tournament title.
The Beavers and Engineers, who played to a scoreless draw back on September 21, appeared to be headed to penalty kicks to decide a winner before the heroics of Ziad and Crompton. First-year RJ Parrilla (Pawcatuck, Conn.) gained possession of the ball just outside the box and found Ziad, who carried the ball towards the corner before finding Crompton just outside the six-yard box for an unbelievable volley with his back to goal.
The Green and White outshot WPI 24-22 overall and 9-8 on goal in an evenly played match. Heintzleman denied Engineers' sophomore Erik Herrera's (San Diego, Calif.) volley at the right post in the 14th minute, and quickly came off his line to react to first-year Francesco Valagussa's (Arlington, Mass.) strike in the 84th minute. He also made a pair of saves inside the first two minutes of the second overtime to keep the game deadlocked.
Junior Andrew Josephs (Kingston, Jamaica) forced a save by WPI junior Rufus Adams (Duxbury, Mass.) in the 89th minute, and the Beavers earned two late corner kicks but were unable to put either of their late shots on frame.
Heintzelman and Adams both finished eight saves in the contest.
Babson will find out where it is headed for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament on Monday at 1:30 p.m.
• The Beavers are 40-9-4 all-time against WPI although Saturday's victory was their first in the series since 2016.
• Babson's conference championship was the program's eighth all-time, six of which have been won over the last 11 years.
• Saturday's match was the first in the postseason between Babson and WPI since 2014, and none of the seven games between the sides in the conference playoffs has been decided by more than a single goal.
• Crompton has produced at least one point in five consecutive matches, and he is now tied for 15th on the program's career list in goals with 22 and tied for 14th in points with 58.