Section: Soccer

Men’s soccer bows out of NCAA tournament in shootout

Men’s soccer bows out of NCAA tournament in shootout

Kenyon fell 5-4 on penalties. | COURTESY OF ISOO O'BRIEN

The No. 17 Kenyon men’s soccer team concluded its run in the 2023 NCAA tournament this past week, defeating Dominican University (Ill.) 2-0 on Saturday before falling to Washington College (Md.) 1-1 (5-4 on penalties) on Sunday. The Owls finished the season 16-4-1. Due to Kenyon’s midseason success, which included a pair of nine- and five-game win streaks, the Owls were able to host the weekend’s games at Mavec Field, rather than go on the road.

On Saturday, the contest started slowly, with both Kenyon and Dominican playing conservatively to open up the tournament. At the end of the first half, the score was 0-0, but from there the action picked up. In the 51st minute, 2023 NCAC Offensive Player of the Year Alem Duratovic ’25 converted a curling free kick from just outside the Dominican box to give the Owls a 1-0 lead. Later, in the 69th minute, Duratovic struck again, this time receiving the ball in the right side of the penalty box, cut back to his left foot and ripped a low-rolling shot into the back of the net that froze the Dominican defenders. After going up 2-0, the defense, led by 2023 NCAC Defensive Player of the Year Aidan Burns ’24, was solid and conceded nothing to Dominican, who left the tournament with a first round exit.

Returning to the field just a little over 24 hours later, Kenyon faced a tough matchup against No. 18 Washington on Sunday. Similar to Saturday’s contest, the first half was an edgy affair, with the game scoreless going into halftime. After continuing the defensive battle well into the second half, Washington finally opened up the scoring in the 75th minute with a well-placed ball from Harrison Malone to take the lead. However, Kenyon showed the resiliency that they have played with all season and were able to strike back off the foot of Max Thesing ’24, who took a corner kick from the right side that deflected off a Washington defender to tie the score. Both teams’ defenses held strong the rest of the way and the game was forced into overtime. In the extra period, neither team took many shots, as both sides took a conservative approach and the game went into penalty kicks. In the penalty shootout, Gerardo Martinez ’25, Burns and Duratovic all sank their penalty kicks, but so did every Washington player. The score was 3-3 when Joey Martens ’24 came to the spot and sent in a low roller that was blocked by an agile save from Washington goalkeeper Anthony Pinto. From there, Vic Bravo ’25 scored Kenyon’s final penalty, but Washington did not let up and converted the decisive penalty, as the Owls fell in heartbreaking fashion, ending their season.

The Owls put in a very solid season under first-year Head Coach Travis Wall, first-year Assistant Coach Nick Taljan and Goalkeeper Coach Andy Brinkman, earning 2023 Coaching Staff of the Year honors along the way. They won the regular season conference Championship for the eighth season in a row (barring the nulled 2021 season) and won every game in regular season conference play for just the second time since 2017, extending a 59-game NCAC unbeaten streak.

Along with the awards garnered by Duratovic and Burns, numerous other Owls were recognized by the NCAC for their efforts. Eamon Dujakovich ’25, who started all 21 games and notched 11 goals and 3 assists, won NCAC Midfielder of the Year, Matt Nguyen ’26 and Thesing made second team all-NCAC and Alex Ramirez ’26 and Martens made third team all-NCAC. Additionally, along with their player of the year awards, Duratovic, Burns and Dujakovich made first team all-NCAC.

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