Shoremen advance to Sweet 16 in NCAA soccer

GAMBIER, Ohio — It would be unfair and likely impossible to pick just one Most Valuable Shoreman who stood out among all others in their second-round victory in the NCAA Division III men’s soccer tournament here Sunday, Nov. 12.

Senior defender Chris Comber nailed the all-important fifth kick that sealed the match in a shoot-out, 5-4, after Washington and host Kenyon played to a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute extra periods.

In the round of penalty kicks, senior keeper Anthony Pinto guessed correctly and smothered the Owls’ fourth kick — this after three other spectacular saves  during regulation and OT.

Senior midfielder/defender Harrison Malone, the Shoremen’s captain, was involved in organizing the strategies in the event of penalties.

Head coach Roy Dunshee said Malone helped the players train for it and helped to select the order of the shooters.

By the way, Malone found the back of the net in the 75th minute to break what had been a scoreless tie up until then.

Malone also was one-and-one the day before when No. 18-ranked Washington eliminated No. 25 Otterbein in the opening round, 2-1. His goal in the 84th minute, with Ben Strine getting the assist, ended a 1-1 tie and held up to be the winner.

Dunshee said Malone had the best performance of his career last weekend, “covering every blade of grass on that beautiful field at Kenyon College. He’s a respected captain and he delivered a captain’s performance.”

Washington (13-2-5) is headed to the round of 16 and will square off against No. 2-ranked Mary Washington there on Saturday. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.

Mary Washington is now the top team left in the tournament because previously unbeaten Messiah (20-1-1) was upset in the second round by Ohio Northern, 1-0

Three Centennial Conference teams were in the initial 64-school field — conference champ Johns Hopkins qualifying automatically, and Washington and Franklin & Marshall gaining at-large bids.

Now there’s only Washington, whose only two losses are to Johns Hopkins.

Hopkins (13-5-4) and No. 8 F&M (14-3-3) both went out in the second round, Hopkins losing to No. 4 Middlebury at Middlebury, 2-1, and F&M losing at home to No. 7 Connecticut in PKs, 7-6.

When Dunshee was asked in an email how the Shoremen have gotten to this point, he told The Evening Enterprise, “Courage.  Integrity. Perseverance.  Respect.”

Of last weekend’s matches at Kenyon, Dunshee said, “We really enjoyed the experience of traveling to a different part of the country and competing with teams we had never seen before. It was a unique challenge. We met some great people and played some top teams. They play beautiful soccer in Ohio, and we came away with an appreciation for their talent and strength.”

Washington and No. 17 Kenyon, which had advanced with a 2-0 shutout of Dominican (Illinois) in the opening round, played to a scoreless tie well into the second half before the ball fell kindly to Malone inside the Kenyon penalty area. He sent a high shot that bounced off the left post and into the right side of the net past a diving Jack Pedreschi  in the 75th minute.

About five minutes after Washington pulled ahead, Max Thesing took a corner kick in the far end. His left-footed laser curved toward the net, cut through traffic and bounced off of a Washington defender and in to tie the match and, eventually, force extra play.

In the first 10-minute extra period, Washington turned up the pressure and nearly pulled ahead twice. Katim Njie on a fast-break opportunity and Chris Glendenning’s header both were going toward the back of the net, but were thwarted by Pedreschi for his fourth and fifth saves of the afternoon.

Kenyon (16-5) responded in the second overtime with two excellent chances of its own.

The first came off of a looping throw-in from Aidan Burns that found the head of a leaping Alem Duratovic who was aiming for the high corner, but was stymied by Pinto.

Joey Martens nearly called game with only 10 seconds remaining. Eamon Dujakovich headed the ball to Duratovic who found Martens on the back post, but Martens’s shot fell just wide, and the match headed to penalty kicks. 

In the round of five PKs, the Owls shot first and in succession Gerardo Martinez, Burns and Duratovic found the back of the net.

A play-by-play announcer described Duratovic as a “set piece wizard” as he had scored both Kenyon goals in the first-round victory.

The Shoremen responded with three successful tries of their own: Strine with a left-footed shot to the bottom left corner; Njie scoring easily with a stutter step approach before depositing the ball in the left side; and Dominic Miller also into the left side of the net.

Next up was Martens, who nearly snuck a low left ball underneath Pinto. But an athletic save gave Washington the edge, 4-3, after the left-footed Tshazi Kamau placed the ball in the upper right 90.

Vic Bravo then beat Pinto high left with his shot, but Comber solved Pedreschi to send Washington to the round of 16 for the second time in three years.

To keep going, WC will have to get past Mary Washington.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Dunshee told The Evening Enterprise in an email Tuesday.

Mary Washington (18-1-2) spent most of the season ranked No. 2 in the country; returned seven starters from last year’s Final Four team, including consensus All-America forward Josh Kirkland (15 goals, 8 assists); and will be playing at home.

NOTE: Senior midfielder Mayowa Taiwo of Chestertown, who lettered in three sports at Kent County High School, came off the bench to play in both matches last weekend for Washington. Overall, he has appeared in 13 matches this season.

 

 

 

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