The Kenyon fan base came in full force last Saturday at Mavec Field to witness the Lords defeat Ohio Wesleyan University’s Battling Bishops 3-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) title game to repeat as conference champions. In the game, Kenyon overcame a miraculous last-minute OWU comeback with a last-second goal of their own, on a penalty kick by Jeremiah Barnes, the Lords’ lone senior. The match marked the second time these teams have played each other this season; the Lords won 2-1 on Oct. 28 at home in a gritty, hard-fought game. Saturday’s championship match proved as physical and intense as the last time the two teams clashed.
With the NCAC championship in hand, the Lords open National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament play this weekend. The tournament begins for the Lords on Saturday when they take on Westminster College (New Wilmington, PA) at 11 a.m at home. The winner will then play the winner of a game later that day at home on Sunday afternoon.
The first half of the OWU match showed off both teams’ strong defenses. Despite being under pressure for a majority of the first half, Kenyon’s defense was tight and only gave up one shot on goal. The Battling Bishops gave up two shots to the Lords’ high-powered offense. None of these shots found the net, resulting in a tie at halftime.
Kenyon dominated most of the second half, pressuring the OWU defense with 12 shots and controlling time of possession of the ball.
Lords’ leading scorer Tony Amolo ’17 finally broke the scoreless tie in the 56th minute with a shot from 25 yards out that found the bottom-left-hand corner of the goal, putting the Lords up one. Less than two minutes later, midfielder Dalton Eudy ’17 crossed the ball to Henry Myers ’17, who headed in his third goal of the season.
Even as the game wound down, the Battling Bishops remained aggressive. OWU’s Lonnie Barnes scored in the 89th minute of the game, cutting the Lords’ lead in half. Down 2-1 with less than 30 seconds left in the game, OWU stunned the Kenyon crowd when they scored again just 30 seconds after their first goal to tie the game.
“We definitely did not plan to give up two goals — that is just soccer,” Amolo said. “We were complacent and paid dearly for it.”
But the Lords weren’t done just yet. With 2.4 seconds left, Jordan Glassman ’17 had the ball in the box and was gearing up for one final shot when he was taken down hard from behind. The foul resulted in a red card for OWU and a penalty kick for Kenyon. Barnes, who also scored the game-winning penalty kick in overtime against Wabash University on Oct. 31, stepped up again for the Lords and fired the ball into the top-left corner of the net, past the outstretched hand of the OWU keeper, giving the Lords a 3-2 lead and the NCAC title. Barnes was named NCAC player of the week for his game-winning penalty kick in the title game.
Even with the win, the Lords understand they have a problem to address. “We have to start finishing games strong,” Eudy said. “We have to play a 90 minutes free of mental errors if we want to keep our season going.”
In addition to giving the Lords back-to-back NCAC championships, Saturday’s win also gave the team an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We understand we have to take the NCAA games one at a time and minimize our errors; otherwise we will be sorry,” Amolo said. “The team is hungry. We believe in ourselves and are willing to work hard to win the NCAA championship.”