Under a dreary Ohio sky, the Lord’s soccer season came to a sudden end at Mavec Field on Saturday after an emotional two weeks of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament.
Calvin College clinched a late 1-0 victory over Kenyon, dashing the Lords’ hopes to enter the semifinals in Kansas City, Mo. This was the first time Kenyon (19-1-1) and Calvin (23-0-1) played against each other in the NCAA Division-III Tournament since 1991, when Calvin beat Kenyon 2-0.
“We did 99 percent of everything right. The other 1 percent is down to luck and sadly it went Calvin’s way,” Co-captain Jeremiah Barnes ’16 wrote in an email to the Collegian. “At this level of the tournament, a bad bounce could mean it all and that’s how it proved.”
That unlucky moment came in the 84th minute of Saturday’s game at a critical defensive moment for the Lords. The ball took an unexpected bounce, snaking between two Kenyon defenders and giving Calvin freshman Jacob Witte a one-on-one versus Clougher. Clougher, who had a strong season with 47 saves, was unable to collect a 48th as Witte’s shot rolled ball past him and into the left side of the goal.
In the first period alone Kenyon racked up ten fouls, and Calvin, five. The pressure, however, did not seem to help either team score as neither of Kenyon’s two shots connected with the net, nor did any of Calvin’s four.
Friday’s home game was a chance for Kenyon to enter the NCAA Division-III quarterfinal, over Tufts University (11-5-3). After a game of intense rivalry, Kenyon came out on top thanks to a last-minute goal by Henry Meyers ’18.
“The Tufts game was phenomenal,” goalkeeper and co-captain, Sam Clougher ’17 said. “We knew that their tactics were tough. … We left everything out there. We fought all the way through and I couldn’t be more proud.” During Friday’s game against Tufts, Clougher had a total of four saves.
While the Lords certainly aren’t happy about the way the season ended, today’s loss does not discount how strong of a season the team had. The team won its second consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) title with a decisive win over Ohio Wesleyan University on Nov. 7.
In addition to their NCAC title, the team had seven players receive All-NCAC recognition.
Forward Tony Amolo ’17, Barnes and Clougher were all named to the first All-NCAC team, while Oliver Wynn ’18 and Alberto Carmona ’19 were named to the second All-NCAC team. Carmona was also named the NCAC’s Newcomer of the Year.
Josh Lee ’17 and Bret Lowry ’19 were named to the honorable mention squad while head coach Chris Brown was named the NCAC’s Coach of the Year.
The last time the Lords had 19 wins, the most in program history, was in 1990. This season was also the first since 1996 that the Lords made it to the NCAA quarterfinals.
While the team made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2014 and won 18 games, they lost several key members of their conference-best defense to graduation.
“This was supposed to be our down-year,” Clougher said. “It’s so hard not to think again to next year. I didn’t think we’d be this good. I don’t think anyone did.”
The Lords will take the week off for Thanksgiving break, but will soon start training for next season. Barnes will graduate in the spring, but the Lords will retain every other member of their team for next fall’s season.