Section: archive

Lords lose NCAC title game

By Esteban Bachelet

Gutted. Frustrated. Hopeful. Angry. Disbelieving. Kenyon men’s soccer had reached an all-time high, their first conference final, only to quickly have it slip away and disappear.

The Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) Battling Bishops defeated the Kenyon Lords 3-1 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) finals on Nov. 9, prompting a mix of negative emotions. Memories from that cold Saturday night are quickly fading though, with the Lords’ earning an at-large bid for their second NCAA tournament appearance in four years.

Kenyon set lofty locker room aspirations before the season. One goal included beating teams like Denison University and Oberlin College, teams that would get in the way of the Lords’ bid to the NCAA tournament. The Lords also wanted to finish first in the NCAC and ultimately win the conference tournament. Two months after the start of the season, on Oct. 16, the Lords defeated Denison 3-2 at home. Seven days after the Denison game the Lords tied OWU, the number one team in the country. That result propelled the Lords to second place in the NCAC, just two points behind OWU. A pair of victories against Oberlin put Kenyon in the final for the first time in the program’s history, but the Lords fell short of winning their first conference title.

“We came out flying. We dominated the first half,” Rei Mitsuyama ’15 said of the first time the Lords encountered the Battling Bishops this season, a game that ended in a 1-1 tie. “This time they were the ones who came out very fast in the first 10 minutes.”

The defense fell flat on Saturday and allowed a ball into the box. An unmanned OWU striker settled the ball past goalkeeper Sam Clougher ’17 with relative ease.

The Lords pressed OWU and turned the tide of the game, pushing numbers forward to equalize the Battling Bishops and taking far more corner kicks. After the OWU goalkeeper bobbled Alistair Flynn ’14 pounced on the rebound to tie the game 1-1 before the half.

“Going into the second half we were like, we got this,” Mitsuyama said.

Unfortunately, in the second half the Lords began to slip against the Battling Bishops. An OWU player collected a loose ball from a corner kick and chipped the ball into the net.

Two minutes after the score, OWU added another goal off a quick turnover to seal the game at 3-1.

“It happens in soccer,” Grant Carney ’15 said. “One goal can kill you.”

The Lords outshot the Battling Bishops 14-12, although OWU had better chances.

For short bursts at the end of the first half and in the beginning of the second half, it looked like the Lords would snatch a victory.

“Maybe it was a lack of focus, but I think we were just unlucky,” Nate Petrou ’15 said. “We can definitely play with anyone and that gives us a big boost.”

Despite the loss, the Lords haven’t lost sight of the fact that their season is not over yet.

“We’ve already started to look past the result from OWU,” Carney said. “Even though we haven’t been achieving all of our initial goals, at the same time we are still playing.”

And that is all that counts, especially for a team that has achieved so much this season. The Lords get to keep their dream alive. The season is not over. On Friday, Nov. 15 the Lords will go to Wheaton, Ill. to face No. 19 Ohio Northern University in the first round of NCAA tournament play. And perhaps the most important goal is still on the line: play through Thanksgiving.

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