Men’s Soccer Headed Back to NCAA III Final Four After 3-2 Double-Overtime Win Over Texas-Tyler
Saturday, November 19, 2011
By Sports Information Student Assistant Andrew Knot
REDLANDS, CA - For the second time in three years, Calvin’s men’s soccer squad has advanced to the Final Four. At one point less than five minutes from seeing their season end, the Knights earned a trip to San Antonio with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over the University of Texas at Tyler on Saturday. Calvin will face Oneonta State (18-2-2) of New York. Montclair State (NJ) will face Ohio Wesleyan in the other semifinal. Calvin will play in the semifinals on December 2 in San Antonio, Texas, site of the NCAA III semifinals and final.
Calvin finished the game with a 20-15 advantage in shots, but it was Tyler with a majority of possession early on. Calvin, however, got on the board first off an acrobatic bicycle kick from freshman Travis Vegter. Vegter biked a bouncing ball in the box over the head of Tyler keeper Sergio Gardea.
The lead wouldn’t hold for long, however. Five minutes later, in the late stages of the first half, Tyler equalized the game at 1-1.
Texas-Tyler came out of the halftime break strong. The Patriots dictated the pace of play early in the second half. Their possession resulted in a goal off the foot of Chris Powell, who beat the keeper and directed a shot in the net’s left corner.
Trailing 2-1, the Knight’s Final Four dreams grew dimmer with each tick of the clock. Those dreams took a serious hit when junior Nick Holtrop was sent off with a red card in the 83rd minute. Calvin would have to finish the game down a man.
But Calvin found a spark in adversity, and threw numbers forward to tie the game.
“When we went a man down, our team just started to take off,” said Calvin coach Chris Hughes.
In the 86th minute, fifth year senior Brad Heethuis, no stranger to critical NCAA tournament goals, touched a ball past Gardea, to square the game in gripping fashion. Twenty minutes earlier, Hughes decided to put Heethuis in as a striker for just that reason.
“I put him with his experience tonight, hoping that he could find a way to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Hughes.
Heethuis did just that. His late-game goal sent the match into overtime, in which the Knights started to swing the possession battle their way.
“We really played well in those overtimes. We were going at them hard,” said Hughes.
The two sides remained scoreless in the first overtime period, though Calvin generated several dangerous opportunities. Then, minutes into the second overtime, the Knights found their chance.
Calvin drew a corner kick less than two minutes into the second overtime. Chris Nance played a ball into the box, which bounced around the area for seconds until junior Trevor Bushhouse turned on the ball and volleyed it into the back of the net. The goal sealed the game for Calvin, and booked their ticket to San Antonio for the Final Four.
“Bushhouse turned around and hit it with such velocity that there was nothing stopping that ball,” said Hughes of the goal, which completed a comeback that at one point seemed all too improbable.
“We thought the season was close to being done,” said Hughes, who has led the Knights to at least the Elite Eight in three consecutive years.
Hughes also saluted the hundreds of fans from the Southern California Calvin Alumni Chapter that came out both Friday and Saturday night. “I can’t say enough about the Calvin fans who came out to support us this weekend,” said Hughes. “Last night Redlands was the home team and you would have never known it. We had more fans than the home team and tonight the support was once again incredible. I want to send a sincere thank you to everyone who came out to support us for the games and with meals the day before we played. This was a special weekend for our team and our Calvin alumni played a huge role in it. It is part of what makes wearing a Calvin uniform so special.”
The Knights will play in the NCAA III semifinals on Friday, December 2. Calvin will face Oneonta State of New York in a national semfinal game on December 2. The semifinal game will be played in San Antonio, Texas, at Blossom Stadium.
Oneonta State (18-2-2) advanced to the NCAA III semifinals with a 2-1 overtime victory over Rutgers-Camden Sunday afternoon. Ohio Wesleyan (21-2-0) will face Montclair State of New Jersey (19-3-3) in the other semifinal game on December 2. Montclair State was a 1-0 winner of Stevens Institute of Technology this afternoon. Ohio Wesleyan advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Hope Saturday night.
Calvin will be making its second appearance in the NCAA III Final Four. The Knights also advanced to the Final Four in 2009, defeating Dominican 1-0 in the semifinals before falling to Messiah 2-0 in the national championship final.
A new national champion will be crowned this year as Messiah captured the 2008, 2009 and 2010 national titles but was defeated 1-0 in the second round in this year’s tournament.