NIAGARA, N.Y. – Trailing 3-1 at halftime, the Monmouth University men rallied to defeat Niagara University in extratime, 4-3, Thursday. The win secured the Hawks a spot in the upcoming Metro Atlantic Athletic Tournament as the No. 6 seed.
Just over a minute into extratime, Ben Zakowski played a long cross from the far sideline. Liam McGregor leaped right in front of the goalkeeper for the game-winning header.
Three other players scored for Monmouth, including Sebastian Rodriguez, Julian Gomez and Zakowski.
Monmouth finishes the regular season with 2-2-1, 2-2-1 records, and will face No. 3 Niagara in the MAAC quarterfinals Sunday. Niagara fell to 5-2-0, 4-2-0.
“It was a very exciting match,” Monmouth head coach Robert McCourt said. “Niagara is a very good team, so that was a great win. We created a lot of good chances in both halves, and got our reward in the end. We’re looking forward to the postseason.”
In the 21st minute, Griffin Tomas sent a long cross that the Niagara goalkeeper punched down. McGregor grabbed the rebound and played a square ball to Zakowski inside the six. The sophomore tapped it in for the 1-0 lead.
Less than five minutes later, the Purple Eagles scored the equalizer with a scramble on the near post.
Niagara won a 50-50 ball, dribbled down the left sideline, and played a pass across the box to take a 2-1 advantage in the 28th minute.
After a blocked shot, Niagara placed the rebound into the left side netting in the 32nd minute, making it 3-1.
Early in the second half, Monmouth cut the deficit in half with a goal from Rodriguez. Tomas placed a ball on the head of Oswald on a corner kick. Rodriguez quickly took the header, spun, and found the back of the net.
In the 59th minute, Zakowski dribbled through multiple defenders and passed it along to Gomez. After a quick move, he turned and scored the equalizer with his left foot through the legs of the defender.