Men’s Soccer leaves New England with a win

Photo+Courtesy+Calvin+Sports+Information

Photo Courtesy Calvin Sports Information

The Calvin men’s soccer team started off the 2015 season with a tie against Endicott College after a double-overtime battle on Friday night in Beverly, Mass. The grueling contest progressed to overtime after the Knights pressured the resilient Endicott defense throughout the game, forcing a total of 17 shots to the host team’s five.

“The crucial moment of the Endicott game was once overtime began,” said Calvin goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos. “We had to make sure we stayed in the game both mentally and physically even though we were tired.” Giantsopoulos, a senior, maintained a clean sheet throughout the game and made one save. The Calvin defense stood its ground against the Gulls. Calvin coach Ryan Souders believed that the team was ready for all the matches in the North Shore Invitational.

After the proceedings on Friday night, Calvin faced an undefeated Gordon College at 7 p.m. in Wenham, Mass., the next day. Both teams made it to the 2014 NCAA III Tournament and were poised for victory against each other. The game was more contested than the previous night’s, evidenced by the 9-5 shot statistics where Calvin had the upper hand. Sophomore Matt Hinds scored a 25-yard goal after 29 minutes of play.

Calvin controlled the game from then on and kept pushing for a safe cushion. They came close to scoring the coveted second goal when a deflected pass almost made it into Calvin senior Taylor Pruis’s path, but the Gordon goalkeeper kept the tally at one goal.

A shot by Jerry Williams in the last 10 seconds saw Giantsopoulos rise to the occasion, keeping his team in the lead. With no goals conceded over the weekend the team was happy with the win, especially after the tiring double-overtime game against Endicott the night before.

“We didn’t change our game plan against Endicott; we just needed to be sharper with simple things, which ended up getting us a goal and a win,” said Giantsopoulos, who together with Hinds and juniors Stephan Hooker and David Waterson made it on to the North Shore Invitational All-Tournament Team.

Giantsopoulos was also named the MIAA Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week for matches through September 6. Coach Souders was full of praise for his team: “I think this was well earned. Truthfully, four guys earning recognition is a credit to all 26 guys. The strength of the individual(s) is released when a team is committed to their individual and collective responsibilities. We have both internal and external expectations. Certainly the visible, more obvious ones include on field results and championships. Internally, nothing has changed. We want to be men that seek to exhibit Christ-likeness and pursue excellence in all things.”

The Knights returned home to Grand Rapids to prepare for their home opener against Great Lakes Christian College on Tuesday at 4 p.m.