The Lords soccer team was the only Kenyon fall sports team to advance past the NCAC tournament and into the NCAA Division III Tournament. After losing to Denison University in the conference-title game, the Lords got a tough draw and had to travel to Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pa, for a win or go home tournament. The Lords knocked off Catholic University of America (D.C.) in the first round on Saturday, before concluding their season in a heartbreaking loss to No. 8 Messiah University on Sunday.
On a windy Saturday, the Lords kicked off the tournament with a 4-1 win against the Catholic University Cardinals. While neither team scored a goal in the first half, both teams had their respective chances. In the second minute, Sebastian Gaese ’23 got a header in the box, but steered it just wide of the net. After that chance, Catholic seemed to settle into the game, limiting opportunities for the Lords. Both teams continued getting their fair share of offensive looks, with each team earning four corner kicks in the first half alone.
When both teams switched sides at halftime, the game started to favor Kenyon. Less than five minutes into the second, the Lords went up by two goals. The first shot the Lords took in the second half was blocked out of bounds by a Cardinals’ defender, while the Cardinals’ goalie was out of the net. On the ensuing corner kick, Gaese put the ball in the back of the net. A minute and a half later, Mac Nardiello-Smith ’23 took a shot from outside of the box that beat the Cardinals’ keeper and put the Lords in control of the game. Kenyon continued to play well going forward, finishing the half with 16 shots.
In the 58th minute, the Lords had a fast break when the Cardinals’ goalkeeper tripped up Sam Carson ’22 on a clear and obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The referee did not hesitate to pull out a red card from his pocket, dealing a blow to the Cardinals’ chances of producing a comeback. Minutes later, Gerardo Martinez ’25 scored a goal of his own, after assisting on the previous two goals. However, on the ensuing kickoff the Cardinals reduced the Lords’ lead back to two by scoring their only goal of the game. In the 76th minute, though, Alem Duratovic ’25 scored, putting the Lords up three goals. From there the Lords continued to control the pace of the game until the final whistle to earn a matchup with the host team.
The Lords returned to the field on Sunday at 3 p.m. to face the No. 8 Messiah Falcons in the second round. Kenyon was a consistent top-25 team this year, so this matchup was not as lopsided as a traditional second-round game. On Sunday, the Lords in fact looked like the better team for most of the game.
As in the Catholic game, Kenyon came out on the attack, frequently possessing the ball in their attacking half of the field. However, it was the Falcons who struck first, in the 16th minute. After possessing the ball in the box, a Falcon was dragged down to give Messiah a penalty kick. The penalty was put into the corner with such pace that despite Kenyon goalkeeper Jack Pedreschi ’25 guessing correctly, he could not get a hand on the ball. After taking a 1-0 lead, the Falcons were forced to defend against a pesky Lords squad who looked for an equalizer. In the 25th minute, the Lords received a corner kick, and the ball found the head of Aidan Burns ’24, who steered it just wide of the net. Carson would record a shot on net in the next minute, but the Messiah keeper was able to make a save. The Falcons’ goalkeeper made four saves in the first half to keep Kenyon off the board.
The Lords started the second half with their foot on the gas pedal, and finally broke through the Falcons’ defense off of a rocket from Martinez from outside the box in the 65th minute. Kenyon continued to dominate possession after the goal, keeping the ball in the Falcons’ half. In the 83rd minute, the Falcons found themselves in a great position in the final third. After a couple of quick, skillful passes, the ball found its way into the Lords’ net.
Kenyon quickly got balls into the Falcons’ box, making the last seven minutes to the finish line difficult for Messiah. A corner kick in the 88th minute saw the ball find Gaese, who fired a powerful shot towards the bottom left corner of the goal. The Falcons’ goalkeeper reacted quickly, making a phenomenal save to keep his team ahead by one. Seconds before time ran out, Gaese hit the post with one final shot that bounced back into the field of play. The final whistle blew, and the Lords players collapsed to the ground, knowing their season was over.
The Lords returned home to a snow-covered campus with a final record of 16-3-1. Head Coach Chris Brown was incredibly proud of the way the team played, not only in the two games in Pennsylvania, but throughout the whole season. Brown noted that, unlike other colleges, the Lords did not get a spring season last semester. Throughout the fall, the team gained confidence and built chemistry, but even though they controlled possession for most of the game on Sunday, it was not enough to push the Lords into the third round of the tournament. Brown wrote in an email to the Collegian that he remained positive about the season as a whole. “[I] was very proud of [the team], glad to be their coach and can’t wait for 2022!!”