LANCASTER, Pa. – Ben Beaver's record-tying goal off a penalty shot with just two minutes remaining in regulation gave the No. 21 Franklin & Marshall men's soccer team a 2-1 victory over Swarthmore on Saturday evening, and propelled the Diplomats into the Centennial Conference (CC) playoffs.
F&M improved to 12-3-2, 5-3-1 CC with the win, while the Garnet fell to 9-4-4, 5-2-2 CC. The Diplomats captured the No. 3 seed and a first round bye heading into next week's conference semifinals, hosted by Haverford, to once again face off with Swarthmore.
Tied at 1-1 with only 2:20 remaining on the clock, a Swarthmore foul in the box gave Beaver an opportunity to make history. The senior forward rose to the occasion, opting for the left side of the net and slipping a shot past a diving Swarthmore goalkeeper for the go-ahead goal.
With his 12th score of the season, Beaver tied Scott Runyan atop F&M's all-time scoring list with 44 in his career.
The Diplomats got on the board first in the 17th minute of the opening half when a Ryan O'Connell throw-in from the left side of the field made its way into traffic in front of the net.
Both teams had trouble settling the ball before Devon Malfitano fired it into the back of the net for his first of the season.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first, Swarthmore looked to have a sure chance to tie the contest when Jack Momeyer sent a header to the left side of the net. The ball made its way past F&M goalkeeper T.J. White, but Jeremy Levine managed to get a foot on the opportunity, sending it back out to the top of the box.
After solid scoring chances from both sides failed to light the scoreboard in the second half, the Garnet managed to tie the game with only six minutes to go. A foul from the Diplomats in the Swarthmore box gave Noah Stergold a penalty kick opportunity.
Sterngold sent a rocket on net but White was there for the diving save. However, with White on the ground, Sterngold pounced on the opportunity and knotted the contest with a shot to the top-left corner of the goal.
After Beaver's dramatic score, Swarthmore had one last opportunity with a corner kick under a minute to play. However, the Garnet sailed the cross behind the net as the Diplomats hung on for the win.
White (10-2-1) was nearly flawless between the pipes, registering five saves including four in the second. Swarthmore's Peter Maxted (9-3-4) was charged with the loss after turning back four of six shots.
The Garnet held the edge on shots at 14-8, including a 10-4 advantage in the second. Corners also belonged to Swarthmore at 8-1.
F&M travels to take on Swarthmore next weekend in the CC Semifinals. Haverford captured the No. 1 seed heading into the tournament, and will host the two-day event. Check back with GoDiploamts.com later in the week for start times.