WATERVILLE, Maine -- The Bates men's soccer team is returning to the NESCAC Championship tournament for the first time since 2010, thanks to a miraculous goal scored in the 110th and final minute of the Bobcats' regular-season finale at Colby on Wednesday afternoon.
Sophomore Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene (Bronx, N.Y.) scored with 24 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, knocking in the rebound of his initial saved shot with his left foot to give the Bobcats (8-5-2, 3-5-2 NESCAC) the victory they needed to advance to postseason play. Colby (6-6-2, 3-5-2 NESCAC) ended its season in shock, 25 seconds away from the tie the Mules needed to take the eighth and final seed in the tournament.
The rivals tied for eighth place in the final standings, with the tiebreaker going to the Bobcats, who also required Saturday's 3-0 upset victory over Middlebury to be in position for the postseason.
Bates will play at top-seeded Tufts Saturday at 2:30pm in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Bobcats played the No. 4 nationally ranked Jumbos (12-1-2, 7-1-2) tough when the teams met in Lewiston on Oct. 14, with Travis Van Brewer's goal in the 85th minute the difference in a 1-0 decision.
Playing out of necessity with greater desperation than the Mules throughout the game, the Bobcats picked it up another notch (or two) in the final two minutes. Junior goalie Robbie Montanaro (Belmont, Mass.) left the Bates goal to join the attack as a Bates corner kick with 70 seconds left was headed out of the box by the Mules. Junior Ben Lyons (San Rafael, Calif.) tracked down the ball and served it back in. The ball came out to senior Max Watson (Yarmouth, Maine), who turned and fired a dead-on shot that was turned away but out of bounds by Colby goalie Avery Gibson, giving Bates another corner.
Sophomore Liam Goldfarb's (New York, N.Y.) kick to the top of the box was headed toward the left goalpost by junior Morgan Dewdney (Meriden, N.H.) to Kimpolo-Pene. Kimpolo-Pene's hard right-footed, aimed between Gibson and the left post, was kick-saved by Gibson. But the ball came right back to the sophomore forward, who was able to swing at the ball with the insole of his left foot. The ball traveled under Gibson's reach and into the lower right corner of the net to end the game. It was Kimpolo-Pene's sixth goal this season.
The result bore striking resemblance to Bates' game two weeks earlier, when Bates defeated Thomas College 1-0 on sophomore Peder Bakken's (Seattle, Wash.) goal scored with 23 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
The game was intensely and evenly played throughout its rainy duration. Colby had a 9-6 advantage in corner kicks, while Bates had a 20-18 edge in shots attempted. The Bobcats put 13 of their shots on goal, with Gibson saving 12 of them. Montanaro made seven saves in the sixth, and likely the biggest, shutout of his career.