DANBURY, CT - Western Connecticut State University senior back Shane Bierfeldt (Torrington, CT) was named Most Outstanding Player after leading the Colonials to a 1-0 victory over Rhode Island College in the 2017 Little East Conference Championship game at The Westside Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The Colonials, 14-6-1, captured their third LEC crown and first since 2005 and earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championships, which begin next weekend at a site and time to be determined on Monday at 1:30 pm.
WestConn junior forward Chauncey Allers (Wilton, CT) scored the game's only goal at the 8:45 mark of the first half following a long crossing pass from sophomore Spencer Ranno (Sherman, CT). It was Chauncey Allers' second goal of the tournament as he scored the lone goal in Wednesday night's semifinal 1-1 tie and eventual victory on penalty kicks over Keene State College.
The Colonials' defense held the Anchormen and leading scorer Dennis Vazquez (Providence, RI) at bay the rest of the way.
The Anchormen, now 9-8-2, had a prime opportunity to draw even with 25 minutes remaining in the game when Vazquez had a direct shot at WestConn keeper Daniel Szabo (Trumbull, CT). The ball escaped Szabo's grasp, but he was able to deflect it away from a wide open Komla Dogbey (Providence, RI).
Szabo made a pair of saves after entering the game after the intermission. He replaced junior net minder Luca DiCarlo (Waterbury, CT), who also made two saves in his 45 minutes.
Not only the final score would indicate how closely match today's two teams were. WestConn held a slim 15-14 advantage in total shots and were even with three corner kicks apiece.
Freshman Charlie Tashjian (West Warwick, RI) made seven saves for Rhode Island College.
WestConn will be making the program's ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament and second since the turn of the century (2003 and 2005). It ran off a string of four straight trips to the big show from 1989 to 1992 then again in 1994 and 1998. It will be head coach Joe Mingachos' first trip as the leader of the men's program after taking the WestConn women's soccer team to 11 NCAA appearances, including the Division III Final Four in 2007.
"I am overwhelmed with feelings right now, but thrilled at the way this team has battled all season long and it's great to see this program back where it belongs, playing at a high level and winning big games," stated WestConn head coach Joe Mingachos. "We will celebrate for a little while then get back to business on Monday after we find out who our next challenge is."