Gophers Still Eyeing Playoffs After Rally Against Eagles

Gophers Still Eyeing Playoffs After Rally Against Eagles

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Goucher kept its chances of making the upcoming Landmark Conference playoffs alive by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to pin a 4-3 setback on Juniata this afternoon.

Just three days after being forced to settle for a discouraging draw in a game in which they were up 3-1 on Elizabethtown in the 89th minute, the Gophers (7-6-1, 3-3-1 Landmark) found themselves in a 1-0 hole against the Eagles when a shot by Steven Stroup bounded off the right post and went in less than a minute into today's contest.

Things got worse for head coach Bryan Laut's squad before they got better: An own goal at 18:25 provided the home team with a 2-0 advantage.

Goucher's first goal didn't come until Thomas Adair (Dunkirk, Md./Northern) made a run from behind to be the first to reach a booming free kick that Brandon Weiner (Derwood, Md./Col. Zadok A. Magruder) sent over several Juniata defenders. Adair flicked the ball over the opposing keeper at 55:31 for his first goal of the 2014 campaign.

Robby Higgins restored the Eagles' lead to two with he lofted a high shot in at 61:17.

Nate Margolis (Ivyland, Pa./Council Rock North) made it 3-2 with his second goal of the season for Goucher at 78:34. The scoring play began with a long throw by George El-Khoury (Cranford, N.J./Cranford), who got the ball back and sent a cross into the box where Margolis headed it in.

An unassisted goal by Luis Gomes (Bushkill, Pa./East Stroudsburg North) at 82:04 created a 3-3 tie, which lasted only 58 seconds before the Gophers went ahead for the first time when a corner kick by Lashaw Salta (Allen, Texas/Plano East) went in for an own goal off a Juniata defender who was challenging Weiner for the ball.

That still left nearly seven minutes for Juniata to stage a comeback of its own and the Eagles (5-12, 2-5 Landmark) did get off two shots down the stretch. The first attempt was blocked; the second was turned away by Nicholas Stolarz (Clark, N.J./Arthur L. Johnson), who finished with five saves in goal for the Gophers.

"It was a crazy week for us," Laut commented after the game. "Juniata is always a difficult place to play and they made us work hard to get this important win for our program. I'm proud of how we battled back to came away with three points because that means the things we want to accomplish are still possible."

Today's win lifted Goucher into a four-way tie with Elizabethtown, Moravian and Scranton for fourth place in the Landmark Conference. The Gophers, who conclude the regular season by welcoming Susquehanna to Beldon Field on Nov. 1, hold tiebreakers over both the Greyhounds and the Royals by virtue of head-to-head victories.