The No. 17 Kenyon men’s soccer team fell 3-1 to Denison University in the NCAC Championship on Saturday, a rematch of a regular-season matchup that the Owls won 1-0. This loss ended Kenyon’s 10-game win streak and moved the team’s record to 15-4-0 overall.
The Owls started the game on the front foot, with two early shots from Joey Martens ’24 to lead the team’s offensive push, alongside two additional attempts from Matt Nguyen ’26 and Eamon Dujakovich ’25. However, nearly 17 minutes into the first half, the Big Red found the back of the net with their first attempt on goal of the game. Although Denison took the lead, Kenyon continued mounting pressure, with Martens taking two more shots as the game approached the 30-minute mark.
Denison doubled its lead with less than 10 minutes remaining before halftime, putting Kenyon in a dire situation. However, just two minutes later in the 40th minute, the Owls finally managed to get on the board, as Atli Hrafnkelsson ’24 met Max Thesing ’24’s free kick and redirected the ball into the net to bring the score to 2-1 at the half.
After the break, the Owls continued their offensive pressure, eager to tie the game. However, as Kenyon sent more and more players up the field, Denison launched a swift counterattack and managed to sneak the final goal of the game past Jack Pedreschi ’25 in the 51st minute.
Kenyon fought hard for the remainder of 90 minutes, with six more shots on goal, but could not break down Denison’s defense. In spite of the Owls’ efforts and their 15 total shots, the Big Red’s three shots, all goals, secured Denison its second NCAC Tournament Championship in three years.
Although this game comes as a blow to Kenyon’s momentum, the Owls chose to approach it like any other. “I think the team has this set mentality of taking one game at a time,” Gerardo Martinez ’25 wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Like any team in the country, we dream of winning the regular season, [the] conference tournament and the NCAA [tournament,] but I think a lot of our success this season has come from us taking the same mental approach to every game and we will continue to do that.”
Despite the loss, Kenyon is still dancing its way into the NCAA tournament on the strength of its impressive regular season record, the Owls’ 10th consecutive year in the tournament. The Owls will host the opening rounds, with their first game against Dominican University (Ill.) on Saturday. The winner of that matchup will face off against the winner between No. 25 Otterbein University and No. 18 Washington College (Md.), which takes place later the same day. No matter the opponent or scenario, Martinez is confident in his team: “[W]e will continue to come out with the same mentality and look for the win.”