It was the most anticipated regular season matchup in Genesee Community College men's soccer history. The #2 Cougars welcomed the #1 Herkimer County Community College Generals to town in a rematch of last year's NJCAA Division III National Championship game. The game lived up to the hype.
Both teams entered Tuesday night's showdown with identical 14-1 records. The Cougars won the Western New York Athletic Conference title this season and the Generals took care of the Mountain Valley Conference. Tuesday night's winner likely will determine next week's number one team in the National Poll.
Not wanting to give up the top spot, Herkimer jumped out in front just under three minutes into the first half. The Generals capitalized on a penalty kick that came as a result of a GCC handball in the box. Jordan Stoddart converted on the kick.
Genesee's best chance to tie in the first half came late when Dom Francis sent a lefty bid from just outside the box that hit the crossbar, keeping the score 1-0 in favor of the visitors. The Cougars trailed by the same score at the break.
GCC notched the equalizer about ten minutes into the second half when Theo Stamotopolous chipped in a goal off of a corner kick to tie the score at one. It was his third goal in two games.
Both teams played scoreless soccer for nearly thirty minutes after that until GCC broke through. Set up with another corner kick, Sam Cassidy sent the cross in front of the Generals net that was headed in by Cody Niccloy to give Genesee a 2-1 lead with about five minutes remaining.
The Cougars were able to hold off Herkimer for the final five minutes and knocked off the country's number one team, 2-1.
Niccloy's game-winning goal is his second of the season. He also tallied the winner against Mercyhurst North East in double-overtime in September.
Jake O'Leary played all 90 minutes in net for GCC and made six saves.
The win is the second regular season victory for Genesee over Herkimer in the last two years. The Cougars defeated the Generals 1-0 during the regular season last year, before falling 4-1 in the National Championship game.
Genesee imporves to 15-1 overall and will conclude their regular season on Thursday night when they travel to Bryant and Stratton College for a 4pm start.