ALBANY – U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's (USMMA) Tim Hughes scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute to pull the Mariners over the Sage Gators 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Sage's (5-7-3, 3-5-1 Skyline) James Fitzpatrick (Stony Brook, NY/Ward Melville) played a ball down the line to Derlis Zayas (White Plains, NY/White Plains) in the 12th minute. Zayas cut the ball from ten yards out, and found the back of the net to put the Gators up 1-0.
USMMA (10-4-2, 9-1 Skyline) took five unanswered shots over a 33 minute period until Sage's Liam Hayes (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia) took a shot with 47 seconds left in half, but it went wide to the right.
After back-and-forth action in the first ten minutes of the second half, USMMA's Jon Tarbox came up with a loose ball and scored from 20 yards out to tie the game 1-1.
Sage responded with a shot from Sarpong Adjei (Bronx, NY/DeWitt Clinton) in the 56th minute, but it was saved by keeper Cory Maier. After Adjei's saved shot, the Mariners went on a counter attack. Gavin Yingling took a shot that just missed and hit the far post.
Sage had their best chance of the half when Kevin Saar (Binghamton, NY/Windsor Central) played a free kick into the Mariner penalty box in the 60th minute. Ryan Fairweather (Middletown, NY/Minisink Valley) had a saved header by Maier. Joe Diano (Hopewell Junction, NY/John Jay) followed up the rebound with a shot, but Maier was able to collapse on the shot. 12 minutes later, Anthony Williamson (Beacon, NY/Beacon) took a shot at the top of the box, but Maier made another save.
USMMA took three dangerous shots over the next nine minutes, but Sage keeper Mike Chiaravalloti (Torrington, CT/Oliver Wolcot) came up with big saves for the Gators.
In the 89th minute, Tarbox served a short floater into the Sage penalty box that found the head of Yingling. Yingling made the smart play to flick the ball back to an open Hughes who scored the game-winning shot to the upper right corner.
Down by one, Sage's Heriberto Gomez (Valatie, NY/Ichabod Crane) took a dangerous shot with a minute left in regulation, but Maier came up with a big save to help the Mariners hold on to the win.
Maier (10-4-2) came up with the win on a five save effort while Chiaravalloti (2-2) picked up the loss with seven saves. Tabox had a game-high six shots with Zayas and River Seybolt (Selden, NY/Longwood) leading the Gators with two shots apiece.
Sage is currently in 8th place in the Skyline with 10 points. The Gators are fighting for the sixth and final playoff spot with Mount Saint Vincent (15 points), St. Joseph's – Brooklyn (12 points) and Maritime (nine points) who are in 6th, 7th, and 9th place respectively. In order to stand a chance at the final playoff spot, Sage has to win their next two games. If they win out, they need one of two scenarios. First, if Mount Saint Vincent and St. Joseph's – Brooklyn lose the remainder of their games (two for Mount Saint Vincent and one for St. Joseph's – Brooklyn), the Gators would have sole possession of 6th place. Second, if Mount Saint Vincent comes up with one loss and one tie, they would be tied with Sage with 16 points each. However, Sage holds the tie breaker and would advance to the playoffs.
The Gators host their last home game of the regular season Sat. Oct., 22 against St. Joseph's – Long Island in a crucial Skyline contest at Lansingburgh High School. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. with seniors Alex Lanza (Poughkeepsie, NY/Spackenkill), Christian Pinti (Slate Hill, NY/Minisink Valley), Lai Le (Walnut, CA/Walnuy) and Juan Victoria (Ellenville, NY/Ellenville) to be honored prior to the start.