Men’s Soccer defeated Messiah College in the Elite Eight, not only breaking into the Final Four, for the first time but also avenging their loss to last year’s champion and the nation’s top-ranked team.
The team then lost 3–1 to Tufts in the Final Four, and had earlier defeated Eastern University 1–0.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, the ‘Jackets faced the vaunted Messiah.
Both teams were attacking from the very beginning. In the 33rd minute, junior midfielder Ulrik Koren scored with on an assist from senior Patrice Douge.
It didn’t take long for Messiah to settle the score. Nick West netted his 30th goal of the season five minutes after the second half started. Eight minutes before the end of the second half, a combination of juniors Christian Batlier, Zach Lawlor and Aidan Miller forced Messiah goalkeeper Connor Bell to give up an own goal.
Messiah had just one shot in the last 20 minutes, and a yellow card in the 86th minute further limited the team’s scoring chances, so the ‘Jackets held on to beat Messiah 2–1.
On Nov. 30, the ‘Jackets lost 3–1 in the Final Four in Greensboro, North Carolina, to the eventual national champion, Tufts University.
The game was choppier than most. Both teams had two players receive yellow cards. Tufts had 17 fouls, while the ‘Jackets fouled nine times.
Tufts started off in control, and in the 21st minute, senior goalie Patrick Conway made a fantastic save, but on the ensuing corner kick, Tufts scored on a header.
Tufts scored twice more near the beginning of the second half. Though the ‘Jackets worked to mount a comeback, the only response was a goal by Miller in the 72nd minute, and the score remained 3–1.
Before facing Messiah and Tufts, the ‘Jackets found themselves slated against Eastern University in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. But around 12 hours before the team left for Pennsylvania, the weekend’s three games were moved to a snowy Fauver due to extreme weather conditions in Mechanicsburg.
The ‘Jackets faced Eastern the afternoon of Nov. 17. The most dangerous moment for the ‘Jackets on defense was near the end of the first half when Eastern had a corner kick, but senior goalkeeper Patrick Conway got the save. Defense was key for the ‘Jackets, as the first half was scoreless despite seven Eastern corners compared to one offensive corner kick for the ‘Jackets.
The ‘Jackets broke onto the scoreboard in the 66th minute when junior forward Josh Cooley managed to put the ball in the low left corner off Miller’s assist. The ‘Jackets had a hard time defending while Eastern kept attacking from different sides in an attempt to even the score. The ‘Jackets won but there was no time to relax, since the Elite Eight game promised to be intense.
Several seniors finished fantastic seasons. Midfielder Bryce Ikeda was named an All-American prior to the Tufts game. Defender Nik Angyal contributed greatly on the pitch as a starter, but also received the Elite 90 Award for academic excellence. Goalie Patrick Conway saved 80 percent of shots he faced.
The Final Four appearance marked the most successful Men’s Soccer season in school history. Next year’s team will have a lot to live up to.