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Men’s Soccer Falls to UW-Oshkosh 1-0 in NCAA III Quarterfinals

Sunday, November 21, 2010

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Box Score

(all photos by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com)

(written by sports information student assistant Nate Triezenberg)

OSHKOSH - Everyone knows the story of Cinderella. Individuals use this reference when talking about an instance that happens once in a lifetime. Last year, the Calvin Knights run to the NCAA National Championship game was labeled as one such event. This year the Knights proved that it was no Cinderella story. It was an instance which the Knights would look to as the groundwork for building a tradition of excellence. This year would be the proving ground that the previous success was no shear happenstance. For the Knights to make it to this point, five games were needed to win the conference championship, on top of an additional three games to make it to this point in the NCAA tournament, a daunting task to say the least.

Coming in to tonightís matchup with #5 UW-Oshkosh, the Knights were weary from the night before after playing 110 minutes and going through an emotionally draining penalty shootout against UW-Whitewater in sub-freezing weather. At game time, the thermometer showed 30 degrees Fahrenheit with a brisk wind coming from the west. Though the Knights were bruised, they fought hard and held the Titans to a scoreless first half.

Calvin came out hard in the second half but were unable to string together possession, keeping its offense out of dangerous opportunities. Oshkosh would draw first blood 16 minutes into the second half off a set piece on the fringe of the penalty area. A ball was driven sharply and goalkeeper Ryan Bratt had a tough read on the ball. After the goal it was a defensive struggle as the Titans buried themselves in defensively, keeping the Knights from mounting large strings of possession.

Calvin (16-3-5) threatened inside the final 20 minutes with its best chance coming with just over 10 minutes remaining on a blast from the left wing by senior Scott Hooker (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) that just sailed over the far post. In the end, one goal is all that was needed to keep Calvin at bay. Though the loss would signal the end of the season, it is not the end of the story for the impact the senior class has had on Calvin menís soccer.

Saturday’s loss came one night after Calvin had pulled out a thrilling 9-8 penalty kick shootout against Wisconsin-Whitewater in a game that concluded officially as a 1-1 double-overtime tie.

Wisconsin-Oshkosh finished Saturday’s game with a 13-7 shots at goal advantage. Calvin senior goalkeeper Ryan Bratt (Silver Spring, MD/Washington Christian Academy) had seven saves in defeat. Bratt was one of six Calvin seniors who made their final appearance in a Calvin uniform Saturday night. The remaining seniors included Hooker, Dan Kmetz (Strongsville, OH/Strongsville HS), Kyle Billin (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS), Kurt Van Sickel (Pittsburgh, PA/Trinity Christian HS) and Lucas Wilgenburg (Visalia, CA/Central Valley Christian HS).

The senior group was part of a class that brought Calvin to back-to-back appearances in the national quarterfinals and a berth in the 2009 NCAA III Championship game.

“What a senior class this has been,” said Calvin men’s soccer coach Chris Hughes after the game. “I think that is why this game hurts so much because it means saying goodbye to six seniors that we love very dearly and will always cherish in our program. This entire team has been so wonderful to coach. They showed great heart throughout the season, even when faced with adversity. I want to congratulate Wisconsin-Oshkosh and wish them all the best at the NCAA III Final Four.”

Said Assistant Coach Don Buchholz after the match: ďThis class has been huge for our program. The fact that they won four conference championships, have been to the NCAA tournament four times, made it to the National Championship game, and this year made it to the Elite Eight - those are things that are huge for a program.Ē

Looking back, the seniors not only made a large impact over the past four seasons, but they helped create a tradition of excellence which they now pass on to the underclassmen they played with. ďThe example these seniors have set, itís something you canít really describe because it has meant so much. Not only have they created immediate success for our program, but they showed the underclassmen the kind of commitment it takes to succeed, and thatís something that you canít put into a win-loss column,Ē continued Buchholz.

With Saturday’s loss, Calvin is now 9-9-5 all-time in NCAA III Tournament play. Friday’s shootout win marked the fourth shootout victory in NCAA III Tournament play for the Knights who are 4-1 all-time in NCAA III Tournament shootouts. Saturday’s game marked Calvin’s third-ever meeting against Wisconsin-Oshkosh in men’s soccer. The Titans have now won all three meetings.

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