December 2, 2011

No. 6 Ohio Wesleyan and Calvin in the title match

Match reports by Christan Shirk

Calvin earned their way to the national title match with a solid 4-2 win over Oneonta State, while Ohio Wesleyan blanked Montclair State 4-0.  The Bishops will be shooting for their first title since 1998, and for coach Jay Martin to win his 608th match, breaking the all-time men's college soccer record for career wins. The Knights will be returning to the final match for the second time in three years, looking for their first national championship. 

Ohio Wesleyan 4, Montclair St. 0

Ohio Wesleyan makes the final with a 4-0 shutout over Montclair State, and with the victory head coach Jay Martin ties the all-time all-division record for wins with 607.

From the opening whistle Ohio Wesleyan looked to be the superior side.  They threatened already in the second minute when they earned a corner kick and Colton Bloecher headed the service just over the crossbar.  A minute later the Bishops had numbers as they attacked and it took a superb intervention by Montclair State keeper Anthony Rogic to keep the game scoreless.  Having withstood the early pressure, Montclair State found some breathing room, but not for long.  In the 13th minute Rogic did well to block a Travis Wall effort from the left side and was relieved when the rebound was shot high by Jon Stenger who had a great chance to put the Bishops in front.

Junior Paul Hendricks had three saves in the Ohio Wesleyan win Photo by Emily Daum for

Minutes later, he’d get another chance.  Matt Shadoan had a close-range shot from the left blocked by Rogic and the rebound come to the Bishop’s Matt Bonfini who was crowded out but the ball squirted loose and Stenger was quickest to the ball and pounded it into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

In response, Montclair State did move the ball into their attacking third with Dan Mendoza able to get a shot off that Paul Hendricks saved.  But overall little changed after the goal.  Ohio Wesleyan’s possession and quick, short passing game kept Montclair on the back foot and unable to get into any rhythm offensively.  Ohio Wesleyan’s ball control in tight spaces was impressive and their interplay beautiful to watch.  It was on display again in the 21st minute when Bloecher spun on his defender, took a dribble, and led Wall with a pass into the area that he shot hard and Rogic could only parry it wide of the left post. 

Montclair started seeing a little more of the ball, but possession was usually short-lived as the Bishop’s were quick to close space all over the field.  The two times they were able to mount an attack, Kevin Zalewski put his shot high and Kevin Brown wide of the mark. But most of the action was happening in their defensive half and in the 31st minute, Wall was in the right place when an attempted clearance of a blocked shot came to him at the top of the box.  With time and space he took a touch and then blasted the ball to the right side of goal and past Rogic to open a 2-goal lead for the Bishops. 

Montclair State sophomore midfielder Dan Mendoza works the ball against Ohio Wesleyan in Friday's semifinal Photo by Emily Daum for

In the 33rd minute Montclair was able to break and they nearly won a penalty when Mendoza raced into the box flanked by two defenders, one who attempted a risky tackle that the forward managed to avoid but in doing so lost the ball.  The action returned to the other end where Rogic, who was doing his best  to keep his team in the game, ill-advisedly came out to the edge of the area to punch a ball clear but missed and fell to the ground while play continued on.  Fortunately for him and the Red Hawks the ball spilled wide left and the defense was able to close down the Bishop attackers without conceding a shot.

They would be beaten in the 37th minute when they hesitated thinking a forward pass along the left touchline by the Bishops had gone out.  But the linesman’s flag stayed down and Ohio Wesleyan never stopped as Paolo Bucci received the ball and squared to Tyler Bryant who was cutting diagonally into the center.  He was able to split the defense and enter the box with only the keeper to beat and sent a rocket into the right side netting for a commanding 3-0 lead.

A minute later Montclair earned a corner that was served enticingly to the top of the 6-yard box, but none of three leaping Red Hawks could get a head to it.  It would be their last chance of the half which ended without any more damage.

Senior Travis Wall leads the Bishops in celebrating their semifinal win Photo by Emily Daum for

Ohio Wesleyan didn’t seem content to just protect their lead in the second half and they created the first scoring opportunity.  Wall found Shadoan ghosting behind the defense and his cut-back from the endline was nearly redirected on frame by Bonfini.  A minute later a waist high cross to the top of the 6-yard box tested the Red Hawk defense, but they cleared the danger.  In the 54th minute Wall had two teammates streaking into the area on his right but hesitated and chipped the ball over the defense to his left where another Bishop showed up from a deep run only to shot wide. 

The Bishops' lead grew a half minute later when Rogic, who was outstanding in the first half, was made to pay for one of his few mistakes on the night, the keeper getting caught in possession by Bofini when he hesitated to boot the ball long.  The Bishop forward had a simple pass into the open net.  The game was well out of reach by that point, but it almost got worse when Wall nearly scored from 45 yards out when he saw Rogic off his line and sent a bomb inches over the crossbar. 

Montclair kept pressing for a goal, playing for pride more than victory at that point.  Mendoza, who had been silent most of the evening with little service, came to life with two hard shots minutes apart, the first dipping and knuckling that Hendricks did well to keep in front of him for the save and the second only able to be parried away.  It was back and forth action until the clock ran down to 10 minutes and the Red Hawk surge started to fade.  With a final score of 4-0, Ohio Wesleyan was in the final and Coach Jay Martin had tied retired Wheaton College coach Joe Bean for all-time collegiate men’s win record at 607.  The Red Hawks end their solid run through the NCAA tournament at 19-4-3. 

Bishop sophomore Jon Stegner scores the game winning goal against Montclair State Photo by OWU Athletics


Calvin 4, Oneonta St. 2

Junior keeper Michael Dolan had 4 saves in the Calvin win Photo by Emily Daum for

In the second semifinal, Oneonta State scored first on Calvin, but the Knights ran off four straight goals on their way to a 4-2 win.  

Oneonta St. started well and it wasn’t long before the Red Dragons were testing the Calvin defense.  In the 3rd minute Gary Laronde got deep down the right side before being dispossessed by Justin Ahearne who slipped allowing Laronde to regain the ball and cross dangerously into the area where both teams disputed the ball before it was cleared.  Two minutes later Oneonta leading scorer Eric Fortier was given just enough space to squeeze off a shot from the edge of the box, right of center, but mishit the ball, sending it wide right.

The good start became a dream start for Oneonta just after 6 minutes when Laronde squared the ball to Jeff Christian in the middle who had time and space to turn and line up a 23-yard pile-driver into the upper right ccorner of the Calvin goal leaving Michael Dolan no chance to make the save.  And just a minute later were threatening to double their advantage when Dolan came out to claim a long angled cross from the right and missed leaving a loose ball in the box which Calvin scramble to clear.

But Calvin was not rattled and would find the perfect response just minutes later.  Sean Broekhuizen got the ball down the right side and was able to dribble the baseline before sending a cross toward the middle of the area where Brad Heethuis was able to redirect it with his head past Oneonta keeper Max Siegelman to even the score. 

Oneonta went back on attack with a snap shot by Fortier from edge of area well-handled by Dolan as it skipped along the wet surface.  The game settled down for several minutes before the Red Dragons were threatening again.  A shot in the 18th minute slipped under Dolan but his defense had him covered and cleared the danger.

It became a back and forth affair and started getting chippy, with Calvin especially playing a very physical game that was testing the tolerance of the referee.  Oneonta seemed to loose the initiative that has served them so well in the opening minutes.  Nevertheless, they did have the Calvin defense scampering again in the 24th minute when the possessed the ball in the box, but Calvin was eventually able to clear the ball.

In the 28th minute Dan Nederhoed was down the right touchline and sent a long cross to the far post where out of a sea of bodies Travis Vegter was the one to get his head to the ball and touch it into the goal for the 2-1 lead.  Oneonta St. wasn’t the same after that, having already lost the initiative and now the lead, they played timid and unsure while Calvin was full of confidence.  The physical nature of the game also seemed to unsettle the Red Dragons who wish the referee had called the game bit tighter.

Oneonta State freshman Scott Taglioni defends against Calvin sophomore Zach Willis Photo by Emily Daum for

In the 32nd minute Siegelman was smartly off his line to snuff out a Calvin through ball that entered the box with Joe Broekhuizen bearing down.  But that alertness was completely absent two minutes later when an errant Calvin pass to nobody in the box was treated with indecision on the part of the entire Oneonta defense allowing Brad Wassnik to steal in and blast a shot past Siegelman to give the Knights a valuable 2-goal advantage. 

A possible handball on a Calvin defender in the box that went uncalled with just over 3 minutes to halftime added to frustrations for Oneonta.  And their final foray of the half was halted when Dolan was quickly off his line for a sliding grab of a ball feed behind the defense with its intended recipient in close pursuit.  At halftime the score remained 3-1.

Calvin almost upped its lead 3 minutes after the interval.  Heethuis beat his defender one-on-one and then tried to shot left-to-right across the keeper into the far side of the goal.  The keeper had nearly over pursued and needed every inch of his stretch to corral the ball.  At this point Calvin seemed content to let the game come to them and just pick their spots to attack. This allowed Oneonta more possession of the ball than they had had since early in the game and first part of the half was mostly played in the Calvin half.  In the 56th minute an Oneonta pass across the box was not dealt with well by the Calvin defense and the ball was poked past Dolan before cleared off the line by Ahearne.

The game turned more and more chippy which often seemed to keep Oneonta St. from focusing on the real task at hand.  But in the 65th minute Daniel Jospher out-hustled the Calvin defense to a ball heading towards the left corner, then controlled and turned on the endline to served a dangerous cross back into the middle of the box that was turned away for a corner.  Two more half-chances would result for the Red Dragons before Calvin could move the ball out of their defensive third.  Oneonta would return for shots in each of the next two minutes, the latter harmless though.

Then it was Calvin turn to attack and keeper Siegelman had to be at his very best to defend a one-on-one situation created by a Calvin through ball.  That would start another spell in attack for the Red Dragons.  Christian found Josepher running into the box, but he was crowded out by two defenders and then an Oneonta free kick from the right passed through the box without anyone fro either side getting a touch.  Finally in the 74th minute Oneonta was able to get another attempt on goal, a low hard shot handle well by Dolan.  Half a minute later Josopher had a great one-time curling effort from the top of the box, but it didn’t come back enough to sneak inside the left post.

Calvin won the ensuing goal kick and quickly advanced the ball to Travis Vegter who struck a 21-yard bomb to the upper right corner that never gave Siegelman a chance.  Whether physical or emotional, tiredness seemed to set-in for Oneonta, now down by three goals with under 15 minutes to play.  Calvin had more time and space than ever.  Josopher, however, still seemed up for the challenge and against the run of play put a nice effort a little over the bar at the 78 minute mark.  With seven to play, Siegelman had to be quick off his line once more to kick away a through ball at the edge of the area.

Oneonta won a direct free kick with under five to play and Josopher stepped up to curl the ball around the wall and inside the right post.  The superby stuck goal was just reward for the energy and persistence he had shown as the cause seemed lost.  It would, however, be the last significant event of the game and Calvin was back in the national final for the second time in three years.  They will face No. 6 Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday for the men's title. 

With the loss, Oneonta State ends their best season in nearly 40 years at 18-3-2.  For the record, Oneonta outshot Calvin 15-10, and had a 4-1 advantage in corners but they weren't effective enough with their chances.  The physical match saw six yellow cards issued, four to Calvin and two to Oneonta. 

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.