On Sunday, the Kenyon College men’s soccer team defeated the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Yellowjackets with an overtime goal to send the Lords to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA D-III tournament. This win comes on the heels of Kenyon’s 5-0 blowout of the PSU Behrend (Pa.) Lions in their opening-round game. The No. 9 Lords have advanced to the third round of NCAA play for the sixth time in their last seven seasons. The win also ties a program record, as the Lords’ unbeaten streak this season has reached 20 games.
In their first game against No. 20 PSU Behrend, the Lords started off strong. They created plenty of scoring chances early and scored twice within the first six minutes of play. In the third minute, Sebastian Gaese ’22 started the scoring with a battle for a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box that he sent into the corner of the net. Less than three minutes later, Sam Carson ’22 received the ball on a Max Taylor ’20 deflection and fired the ball into the right side of the goal.
Kenyon’s dominant possession left the Lions deflated heading into halftime. In the second half, Sebastian Brylka ’23, Atli Hrafnkelsson ’23 and Collyn Carpenter ’21 each added to the lead with goals of their own, giving the Lords a resounding 5-0 victory.
On the following day, the Lords played Rochester in the second round, a far more difficult opponent.
Despite a bevy of scoring chances for Kenyon early on, the Yellowjackets found the back of the net first in the 39th minute. A cross from Zach Lawlor off a clearance from goalkeeper Ian McInturf ’21 found Will Eisold, who headed the ball into the net.
The Lords entered the second half trailing by a goal. However, as they’ve done all season, they responded with resiliency. In the 75th minute, the team’s luck turned: Kenyon earned a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard box. Max Taylor ’20 stepped up and fired a low shot into the left corner, evening up the score to 1-1.
Six minutes into overtime, Luke Muther ’22 drove towards the right side of the 18-yard box. Muther jumped in the air as a Rochester defender attempted a slide tackle. The defender fell flatly on top of the ball and was whistled for handling the ball inside the penalty area, giving the Lords an opportunity to win the game from the penalty spot. Scott Upton ’22 calmly stepped up and slid his shot past the goalkeeper to win the game, sending the Kenyon bench into a frenzy.
Due to the losses of No. 4 Franklin & Marshall College(Pa.) and No. 7 John Carroll University, the latter of whom handed the Lords their only defeat of the season, the Lords will host their region of the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. The Lords will face off against Montclair State University (N.J.) this Saturday at 1:30 on Mavec Field. If the Lords win, they will face the winner of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) and Centre College (KY). It would mark just the second time in Kenyon’s history that the team will have reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, the other one coming in 2016 when the Lords were ultimately defeated by Tufts University (Mass.).