Calvin Men’s Soccer Defeats Chicago in Final Four, Loses to Tufts in National Championship

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Calvin Men’s Soccer’s hopes for a first-ever national championship title ended with disappointment after they were unable to overcome the Tufts Jumbos in the NCAA DIII National Championship this past Saturday.

After defeating Case Western Reserve, the Knights advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in their history. This would be a final opportunity for seniors James Jeninga, Trent Vegter, Jacob Witte, Daniel Norton, Lucas Albrecht, Bobby McCaw, Reid Culberson and Luke Schepers to represent the Calvin Knights in the National Championship. Seniors Trent Vegter and Bobby McCaw and junior Jacob Lyon received NCAA All-American recognitions the night before the semifinals.

Calvin faced the Chicago Maroons in their semifinal matchup. The last time these two teams met was earlier in semester, when the Maroons came to Zuidema Field and beat the Knights 1-0.

Despite some early opportunities for Chicago, the Knights quickly asserted themselves into the game and created some very good scoring opportunities, with senior forward Bobby McCaw and senior midfielder Jacob Witte testing the Maroons keeper. Chicago had a couple of attacking opportunities as well but neither team was able to break the deadlock until the 27th minute, when senior Bobby McCaw scored on a half-volley after a free kick by junior Ian Adams. It was his 21st goal of the season.

Two minutes later, the Knights doubled their lead when junior Ian Adam’s attempted cross was deflected into the goal by a Maroons defender. The Maroons responded quickly and had scored a goal of their own within the minute. Chicago pressured the Knights’ defense, but the Knights held firm, and they eventually re-established their two-goal lead when junior midfielder Hunter Olson scored after being set up by freshman midfielder Mason Smith. The Knights led 3-1 at the half.

Both teams went into the second half with the desire to score another goal, Chicago to get back in the game, and Calvin to seal the deal and get beyond the Maroons’ reach. Calvin eventually scored a fourth goal when junior Dillon Weldy scored his ninth goal of the season off a low cross by freshman Sam Twigg. The Maroons did not give up, however, and forced the Knights’ sophomore goalkeeper Chris Morrish into making several important saves. Neither team was able to find the back of the net again as Calvin defeated Chicago by 4 goals to 1 and progressed to the National Championship.

It was the fourth time that the Calvin Knights made it to the National Championship, and they faced the Tufts University Jumbos. Tufts was able to take an early lead in the game when a shot by the Jumbos took a deflection and zipped past the keeper. Calvin pushed for an equalizer, but Tufts defended aggressively while also attacking the Knights. The Jumbos doubled their lead at the half-hour mark, when one of their forwards scored a header off a long throw into the Knights’ 6-yard box. Calvin was behind by 2 goals at the half.

The Knights were able to score five minutes into the second half. They were awarded a penalty after a foul on junior Ian Adams, and junior Hunter Olson took it and scored his 15th goal for the season. Calvin pushed for an equalizer through the rest of the second half, but Tufts’ defense and goalkeeper were up to the task. The Jumbos defended solidly and aggressively, and the Knights were unable to find a way through. The final score was Tufts 2, Calvin 1; the Knights were unable to cinch the National Title. Overall, the Knights had a winning season finishing with 22 wins in 24 games and reaching the Final Four and National Championship.

Despite losing some key senior players this year, the Knights will retain a strong group of players for next year with plenty of underclassmen available to fill the gaps, and with current junior players such as Ian Adams, Dillon Weldy, Jacob Lyon, Mason Smith, Hunter Olson and Alex McDowell.