WORCESTER, Mass. -- MASCAC Tournament MVP Conor Murtagh (Walpole, Mass.) connected on the game-winning goal in the 85th minute to help the third-seeded Bridgewater State upset #1 Worcester State, 1-0, for their third conference tournament title this afternoon at Coughlin Field.
With the win, Bridgewater (10-7-3) has earned the leagues automatic berth to next week's NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament. The Bears, who also won the MASCAC crown in 2004 and 2007, advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in program history (1990, 2004, 2007, 2013).
The Lancers (11-4-4) will await word on a possible ECAC Division III New England Tournament bid when the seedings are announced on Monday.
The hosts had a great opportunity to take an early one-goal advantage when junior Derek Kareta (Ludlow, MA) found senior Alex Wolfel (Unionville, CT) streaking up the left side, however, his bid to pick the near corner missed wide left in the 12th minute.
Murtagh almost gave BSU the first half edge when he tried heading home senior Colin Neri's (Upton, MA) cross from the right side, but WSU sophomore keeperNick Zucco (Ludlow, MA) made a great save to keep the score knotted at 0-0 in the 27th minute.
The Blue and Gold then had back-to-back opportunities by sophomore Alex Goncalves (Ludlow, MA) with 13 minutes remaining in the opening frame. Bears senior net-minder Matt Bagley (Braintree, MA) came to the top of the box to deny Goncalves first effort. Goncalves was then able to corral his own rebound and fire once again, however, this time junior Chris Naughton (Braintree, MA) kicked the ball away, protecting the empty net.
After a slow start to the second stanza with most of the action taking place in the midfield, Murtagh again nearly missed tilting the score in Bridgewater State's favor.
He blasted a shot from the top of the box aiming for the left side of the net, but WSU freshman Ramdel Mendez (Attleboro, MA) got in the shooting lane and recorded a team save in the 57th minute.
The Bears continued to control the pace of play and sophomore Sawyer Fleck (Foxboro, MA) nearly missed a goal when his rocket hit the crossbar in the 78th minute.
Murtagh finally helped the visitors break through in a big way when he flicked the ball past the keeper on a header following a solid cross from Steve McAvoy (Walpole, Mass.) on the right side 30 yard-line with 5:30 remaining in regulation for the 1-0 margin.
The Lancers last ditch effort fell short as Wolfel's blast in the 87th minute sailed wide left preserving the shutout victory for Bridgewater State.
Zucco registered four saves in the set back as Bagley turned aside two shots in securing his ninth shutout of the season.
BSU led in shots 15-8 while WSU had the 4-2 advantage in corner kicks.
A solid Bear back line helped limit the best scoring offense in the MASCAC (38 goals) to just three shots on net.
In an odd coincidence, each of the three MASCAC titles for the Bridgewater State men's soccer team have occurred during the same three Fall seasons that the Boston Red Sox have won each of their last World Series Championships.
NCAA Division III Tournament pairings will be announced on Monday with the selection show getting underway at 1:00 PM on NCAA.com. First round games are tentatively scheduled for November 15th and 16th.