Generals win national championship in second overtime period

soccer 11 12 2011 mcAvoyHerkimer, NY – The Herkimer Generals won the 2012 NJCAA D-III national championship in an amazing game on Sunday afternoon. A huge crowd watched in very pleasant weather as the tense game went scoreless until Michael Pope and Craig McCabe created the winning goal with 4:20 left in the second overtime period.

Photo: Peter McAvoy deflects a corner kick toward the Montgomery goal

The game could have gone either way until that ever-special moment when Pope's hard shot rebounded off the diving Montgomery College goalie and McCabe stroked home the winning goal.

The contest began with the Generals controlling play. The Generals attacked, and the Raptors of Montgomery College stayed firmly in their defensive formation, hoping to counterattack.

The Herkimer Eleven worked several good offensive plays, earning several corner kicks, but could not get the ball past goaltender Serigne Gaye.

soccer 11 12 2011 TristonHenryCoach Pepe Aragon's team launched one attack that kept the ball in the Raptors' end for several passes and a cross, and ended with a spectacular effort by Pope that just missed to the left. (See video below.)

Goalkeeper Triston Henry was unbeatable once again. The Raptors managed to threaten later in the first half, but Henry tipped the ball harmlessly over the crossbar.

The half ended with Herkimer having played well and controlling most of the action, but with the score 0-0.

Photo: Triston Henry steers the ball over the crossbar in first-half action

Montgomery coach Pedro Braz changed his squad's approach for the second half. They put one more player forward, and had some success, but the Herkimer defense kept them off the scoreboard.

soccer 11 12 2011 CharlieAndersonIt took the Generals a while to adjust to the Raptors' second-half tactics, but they did adjust. Herkimer attacked with two strong strikes with 17 minutes left in the half. Then eight and 11 minutes later, Charlie Anderson made very threatening plays but could not beat goaltender Gaye.

Photo: Charlie Anderson leaps over a Montgomery fullback and almost scores

Both teams were playing very well as regulation time ran out. The game was still scoreless. The first 10-minute, golden goal (sudden victory) overtime began.

The fans saw some splendid soccer during that period, but the score remained 0-0.

The second OT period began, and both teams were playing well but on tired legs. The contest appeared to be heading for a penalty kick shootout. And then it happened. Midfielder Pope put a hard shot on goal. The goalkeeper blocked Pope's shot but could not prevent a rebound. Herkimer's McCabe immediately struck the rebound perfectly, and goalie Gaye did not have a chance of stopping it.

The Generals had won the game and the national championship. The team instantly headed across the field for a celebratory pileup in front of their fans.

This championship added to the program's outstanding record. It was Herkimer's ninth national D-III championship, and their second in a row. Wehrum Stadium opened in 2005. The 2012 championship was the team's fourth in the eight-year Wehrum Stadium era.

The award ceremony after the game was a joyous event. The All-Tournament team included Generals Triston Henry, Korab Syla, Peter McAvoy and Craig McCabe. McCabe was also named Tournament MVP. Herkimer Head Coach Pepe Aragon was named coach of the tournament.

It was a grand game on a beautiful late-autumn day. Generals fans will long remember it.

Note: A pictorial review of the game will appear on this website soon.

Nick Scribe, website writer

[ Ed. Note: Since Herkimer's winning goal was scored by a student from Great Britain, we are providing another description of the winning play, in the style of British sports journalism. ]

The lads on both sides were exhausted from 105 minutes of nil-nil play. Finally, Herkimer's Michael Pope strode forward and blasted a shot on frame. The Montgomery keeper dove and stopped the missile, but surrendered a rebound. Pope's team-mate Craig McCabe lept at the rebound, put his boot to the ball straightaway, and deftly sent it over the keeper and into the net. In all, the Pope-McCabe play was a lovely bit of football, and the lad from Dundee had the honor of striking the winning shot.

Game Stats

Scoring: Herkimer – McCabe 1g, Pope 1a; Montgomery – none

Corner kicks: Herkimer 12, Montgomery 3

Saves: Herkimer (Henry) 4, Montgomery (Gaye) 3

Records: Herkimer 20-2-0, Montgomery 18-4-2

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