By Jack Poleto
Washington College men’s soccer played against both Otterbein University and Kenyon College on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 to advance to “Sweet 16” in the National Collegiate Athletics Association tournament.
As the team traveled seven and a half hours on Nov. 8 to Kenyon’s campus in Ohio, many of WC’s students, faculty, and staff came gathered at the Cain Athletics Center for their send-off.
“The biggest challenge in the NCAA tournament is playing two games in two days against really good opposition,” junior midfielder Dominic Miller said.
In their first game, against Otterbein, they kicked off at 1:30 p.m.
Senior midfielder Harrison Malone took over the Shoremen’s first half offense while posting four shots on goal accompanied by senior midfielder Ben Strine’s two shots on goal.
The score by the end of the half was 0-0, however WC’s attack was shining bright.
During the second half, in the sixty-second minute, sophomore midfielder Tyler Davidson scored the game’s first goal with an assist from Malone.
Otterbein immediately had an answer for the Shoremen as they snuck a shot past senior goalkeeper Anthony Pinto, bringing the score back to even.
WC did not fire another shot until the eighty-fourth minute where Strine assisted Malone to score the game winnning goal, putting the Shoremen up 2-1.
The team moved forward in the tournament to play against the host team, Kenyon College, ranked seventeenth in the most recent United Soccer Coaches top 25 rankings.
In a defensive standoff that started at 1 p.m. the next day, the two teams remained scoreless until late into the second half.
In the seventy-fifth minute, Malone finally had a clear shot on the opponent’s goal and put the Shoremen on the board.
As the game went into the eightieth minute, Kenyon found the back of WC’s net, bringing the score to 1-1.
Regulation time expired, so the team’s went into overtime. The Shoremen got off two shots from junior midfielder Katim Njie and sophomore midfielder Chris Glendenning, both blocked by Kenyon’s goalie.
With neither team scoring, the game went to its second overtime and ended without a score from either team. Since the game was a stalemate, the result had to be decided by penalty kicks.
Each team had five attempts to score on the opposing goalkeepers in the shootout.
The Shoremen made five of five shots, with scores coming from Strine, Njie, Miller, freshman midfielder Tshazi Kamau, and senior defender Chris Comber.
Pinto made an amazing save against Kenyon’s fourth shooter, allowing for the Shoremen to advance to the next stage of the tournament.
“It was an amazing experience traveling to Ohio. Simply spending time with our team is an absolute pleasure no matter where we are,” Malone said.
“I’d have to say the grit and the sheer hard work when things got tough, we were able to push through it and get the wins,” Kamau said.
The team will be playing away at the University of Mary Washington on Nov. 18 at 11 a.m.
“Within the team, there is a healthy mix of respect for Mary Washington and a confidence in ourselves and our capabilities,” Miller said.
“Thank you to the WAC community for all the support through this amazing journey. We hope we are making you all proud,” Pinto said.
Photo caption: Senior goalkeeper Anthony Pinto kicks the ball away at a home game.
Photo courtesy of WC Athletics