Calvin Men’s Soccer Falls to Messiah in National Title Game 2-0
Saturday, December 05, 2009
SAN ANTONIO, TX - The Calvin men’s soccer team’s quest for a national title came up one game short as the Knights were defeated by defending national champion Messiah (PA) 2-0 Saturday night in the NCAA III Championship final.
Messiah pressured early and scored in the 16th minute of play on a long throw-in into the box that was headed in by Messiahís Danny Thompson.
Calvin nearly tied the game in the opening moments of the second half with a quick flurry of shots by senior Luke Holtrop that were turned back by the Messiah defense. Holtrop’s first shot was blocked and his second - a volley from 25 yards out - was cleared off the back line by a Messiah defender. Holtrop then got his foot on a rebound in the box and had a second shot cleared off the backline by a Messiah defender.
Moments later, Messiah struck back with a counterattack with a striker taken down in the Calvin box. The Falcons were subsequently awarded a penalty kick and made good on the opportunity with Nick Thompson banging in the PK.
“In a game like this you have to expect the intensity that Messiah brought to this game in the first 20 minutes,” said Calvin head coach Chris Hughes. “We had an opportunity or two there early in the second half that could have changed momentum but it didn’t quite go our way. It was a great game and Messiah is a great team.”
Despite falling behind 2-0, Calvin continued to fight hard over the final 40 minutes of play. “When Messiah scored on the penalty kick, it would have been easy to pack it in and quit but our team kept fighting hard and played a great game over the final 40 minutes,” said Calvin senior Michael Holwerda. “I was proud of our team for playing hard to the very end.”
Messiah finished the game with nine shots to Calvinís eight. Junior goalkeeper Ryan Bratt had two saves for Calvin while Ryan Clugston had one save for top-ranked Messiah which finishes the season with a 24-1-0 record while capturing its sixth national title in the last eight years.
The Knights conclude the season with an overall record of 18-5-3, advancing further in the NCAA III Tournament than any soccer team in MIAA history. Calvin also landed three players on the NCAA III Final Four all-tournament team as senior Luke Holtrop and juniors Lucas Wilgenberg and Dan Kmetz were so honored. Clugston was named the Final Four Most Valuable Defensive Player while Messiah’s Geoff Pezon was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player.
Saturday’s game also concluded the careers of Calvin seniors Michael Holwerda, Greg Snapper, Luke Holtrop and Alex McKenzie. “This group of seniors has carried our team this year with its leadership,” said Hughes. “The difficult thing as a college coach is that your players graduate and you have to say good-bye. The wonderful thing about that is that you see players come in as boys and leave as men. This senior class made history with this team and will forever be etched in my heart.”
The second place finish marked the best-ever finish by an MIAA soccer team and marked the second time a league school had reached the NCAA III Final Four with Alma also achieving the feat in 1999. Alma’s 1999 team was coached by Scott Frey. Frey was present on Saturday in San Antonio as he now coaches the Messiah women’s soccer team. Frey helped Messiah pull off a double national title performance with his women’s team defeating Washington University 1-0 Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s championship game also featured a meeting of CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) institutions. At the conclusion of Saturday’s championship final, both teams gathered together in a circle for prayer.
Calvin’s national runner-up finish is the 14th national runner-up finish by a Calvin varsity sports team. It also marks the third top-four national finish by an MIAA team this year as the Calvin women’s cross country team recently finished third at the NCAA III Championships while the Hope women’s volleyball team also took third at the NCAA III Championships.
CALVIN NATIONAL RUNNER-UP FINISHES
Menís Soccer, 2009
Menís Cross Country, 1998
Menís Cross Country, 2001
Menís Cross Country 2002
Menís Cross Country 2005
Womenís Cross Country, 1992
Womenís Cross Country, 1993
Womenís Cross Country, 1994
Womenís Cross Country, 2008
Menís Track & Field, 2002
Womenís Track & Field, 2001
Womenís Track & Field, 2005
Womenís Track & Field, 2007
Womenís Volleyball, 1986