Section: Soccer

Home wins send Lords soccer to sweet 16 of NCAA tourney

Home wins send Lords soccer to sweet 16 of NCAA tourney

How sweet it is.

The Lords won their first- and second-round matches in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament last weekend over Westminster College (New Wilmington, Pa.) and the University of Chicago. Facing the Westminster Titans, the Lords scored a late 1-0 winner to advance to play the Chicago Maroons. In the round of 32 against Chicago, the Lords were forced to fight from behind, attempting to recover from a weak first half and eventually pushing the game into penalty kicks, which Kenyon won 4-2.

During the first half of the Westminster game, Kenyon dominated its opponents on offense, taking eight shots total to the Titans’ zero. Despite taking so many shots, few of them were quality opportunities; the Titans’ defense stayed compact and the keeper stayed on his toes, minimizing the Lords’ shots on target and coming up with two saves in the first half. The second half brought more of the same for the Lords, who kept high pressure on the Westminster defense, firing nine shots to the Titans’ one. The Lords’ persistence finally paid off in the 86th minute, when Henry Myers ’18 headed home a cross by Dalton Eudy ’17, giving the Lords a 1-0 win and a second-round match against the UChicago Maroons.

Chicago tested the Lords, capitalizing on a missed clearance by keeper Sam Clougher ’17 in the first half and tucking the ball into the net, taking the lead in the ninth minute. The first half was not the usual Lords soccer, with the home team getting outshot 9-4 by Chicago and giving up a number of decent chances to score.

The first half served as a wakeup call for the Lords, who calmed down and dominated the second half, taking 10 shots to Chicago’s one. The tying goal for the Lords came in the 57th minute when forward Tony Amolo ’17 headed home a cross from Jeremiah Barnes ’16. Despite many other chances, Kenyon and Chicago found themselves fighting for survival in overtime, taking four shots each but not finding the back of the net. After the two overtime periods proved fruitless for both teams, the game proceeded to penalty kicks.

After Chicago made its first shot, Amolo again tied the score, firing his ball past the Chicago goalie.

“I knew that the lads we had taking them would give us a chance,” Clougher said of the penalty kick shootout, “which meant all I had to do was guess right once.” He guessed right more than once, saving two of the next three shots.

The first save came on a shot taken by Chicago’s Andre Abedian, with Clougher diving low to the left and deflecting the ball away. Clougher then came up huge with a second save, diving to his left and barely hitting the ball enough to deflect it off the crossbar and out. Between these saves, Oliver Wynn ’18 and Barnes scored their respective shots to give the Lords a 3-2 lead.

Eudy held the fate of the game in his hands as he took the long walk from half-field to the penalty spot. “When I saw Sam save the penalty before me, I knew my penalty would win the game,” Eudy said. “Although I was a bit nervous because my parents were in the stands watching, I had all the confidence in myself that I would make my penalty and win the game.” The pressure failed to get the best of Eudy, who knocked the ball past the keeper into the right side of the net, propelling the Lords into the next round.

After the win, the Lords sprinted to the sidelines and celebrated with their screaming fans and classmates. “There’s something special about knowing how much people in this school care about us,” Clougher said. “And Sunday was the pinnacle of that. I know hearing cheers that loud after every goal or every save got us through on Sunday.”

With the wins the Lords clinched their third-straight sweet 16 appearance, and will face last year’s NCAA champion Tufts University (Medford, Mass.) Friday at 11 a.m. on Mavec Field.

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