December 2, 2016

Calvin edges Brandeis 1-0 in men's second semifinal

Cover photo credit: Dave Hilbert,

Other Semifinal Recaps:  Men's Semifinal 1 Women's Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2
Brandeis' Sam Vinson closes down Calvin's Derek Williams in men's semifinal action.
Dave Hilbert,

In Saturday's second men's semifinal, Calvin defeated Brandeis with a 74th minute goal. Micah Beard registered the game's lone tally from within a goalmouth scrum after the stellar Brandeis goalkeeper Ben Woodhouse blocked a well-placed freekick at the left post. That freekick came as a result of a foul on Jacob Witte who received a slotted ball behind the Brandeis backline and was about to enter the area with just the keeper to beat before being bodied from behind.

First Half

Just three minutes in, Brandeis had a great chance to open the scoring when a perfect ball over the top found a streaking Evan Jastremski behind the defense, but the opportunity was lost when a pair of backs caught up before the forward could get a shot off. Brandeis then traded excitement for apprehension as All-American midfielder Josh Ocel landed hard on his shoulder and head after an aerial challenging and had to leave the game. Moreover, his challenge was deemed a foul and when Calvin's free kick into the box wasn't able to be caught or cleared by the Brandeis keeper, the ball fell in the vicinity of the Knight’s leading scorer Bobby McCaw but the Judge’s defense cleared the danger just in time.

Ocel was able to return several minutes later, but it was Calvin who was grabbing the upper hand in the contest. Twelve minutes in it took an excellent slide tackle by Kyle Robinson on the right edge of his area to prevent Jacob Witte from getting in on goal. Witte nearly put Calvin in front a few minutes later when he shot from a tough angle as he bore down on the end line, but a fooled Woodhouse was just able to recover and block the goal-bound shot at the near post. It was Witte troubling Woodhouse again when Brandeis turned the ball over trying to dribble out of their defensive third and Isky van Doorne was able to quickly find an open Witte on the right side of the area for the shot.

The Brandeis keeper’s best save of the half came 30 seconds later when an attempted defensive clearance fell right to Calvin’s All-American Stephen Hooker who dribbled into the box to rip a curling shot that Woodhouse superbly punched away. He was alert several minutes later to gobble up a dangerous cross with McCaw was just a half-step late arriving.

After all those chances to grab the lead, Calvin nearly gifted Brandeis the breakthrough with a soft backpass to the goalkeeper. From that point the game became a 50-50 affair and two minutes later Brandeis created their best scoring chance of the half. Mike Lynch squared to a wide-open Brandon Miskin at the top of the box and after a couple dribbles to the penalty spot released a shot that rebounded off the right post.

At the other end, a nice slide tackle by Woodhouse two yards outside his box on the left broke up a Calvin counter-attack and four minutes from halftime Brandeis broke down its left wing to the end line, but the centering pass thru the 6-yard box just eluded Marino Espiga and his defender while Calvin keeper van Ryn held to his line.

That would be the last good chance of the opening forty-five minutes. On the balance of play, a 1-0 lead for Calvin certainly would not have been undeserved, and if not for the superb performance of Woodhouse in goal for Brandeis, it would have been at least that if not more.  

Calvin played a high defensive line in the first half, effectively compressing  the play, and where more dynamic and dangerous in possession. Brandeis never found any rhythm and only looked truly threatening on a few occasions. The Judges did look to play it over the top into the space left behind Calvin’s advanced back line, but with limited success.

Second Half

Brandeis came out of the interval looking determined to give a much better accounting of themselves than they did in the first half. Three minutes in, Patrick Flahive carried the ball deep down the left side before centering the ball into the path of Jastremski, but the defense cleared the ball in the nick of time. Face-paced back and forth action followed and it appeared the Judges had taken the lead at the 52nd minute mark when Lynch got on the end of a centering pass from Jastremski and redirected the ball into the back of the net. But the referee quickly waved it off for offside as Zach Viera, who was also making a near post run, was adjudged to have got a slight touch on the ball putting Lynch in an offside position as he met the ball.

The pace of the game settled some with Brandeis, in a reversal of the first half, compressing the play with a high defensive line and controlling the flow of play. Their next scoring chance fell to Viera whose strong shot from the top of the box disappointingly went straight at Van Ryn. And in another role reversal, Brandeis almost gifted Calvin the lead against the run of play when a defender nearly touched a centering pass into his own goal, but the wrong-footed Woodhouse was able to reach back to keep the ball from crossing the line. The action quickly moved to the other end of the field where a perfect slide tackle stopped the Judges’ break.

Calvin was looking tired and Brandeis continued to probe for the game’s first goal, but for all the service into dangerous areas, rarely did Brandeis put Van Ryn to the test like Calvin tested Woodhouse in the first half. Nevertheless, it felt like a breakthrough for Brandeis was coming as Calvin appeared to be fading. And it nearly came in the 72nd minute when Espiga, his marker, and Van Ryn converged on a cut back from the end line and the forward’s touch squirted over the keeper and bounced slowly goalward only to meet the post before being cleared.

Minutes later the complexion of the game changed. Calvin moved the ball into their attacking third and with the Brandeis backs trying to hold their line a slotted through pass was raced onto by Witte who dribbled toward the box for a one-on-one with Woodhouse before contact from behind by Thales Brito brought him down on the edge of the area. A foul was whistled and Brito shown the red card. On the ensuing free kick, Woddhouse did well to block the shot at the near post, but he wasn’t able to cover the loose ball and the ball pin-balled around the goal-mouth scrum until Micah Beard ‘s touch was enough to put the ball over the line for the goal.

A punch to the gut for the Judges who had controlled much of the second half and had a goal called back, and now their attempts to equalize would have be done a man down. And their next attack resulted in a Joshua Handler header going high and wide. But the momentum had been lost and the clock ticked under ten minutes with neither team creating much.

Unsurprisingly, Calvin was finding more of the ball and if not for the timely intervention of Sam Vinson on a centering pass by Calvin, the deficit would likely have been doubled in the 81st minute. Both sides were showing sign of fatigue, with execution noticeably suffering. With time running out, neither team had the cutting edge anymore to make their advances into the attacking third payoff with either an equalizer or an insurance goal.

Woodhouse continued to impress until the end, coming two yards outside his box to knick the ball off the foot of a Calvin attacker who had gotten behind the defense. Brandeis would have one more good chance to extend their season: Robinson’s well-placed shot from the edge of the area with 45 seconds on the clock would have knotted things if not for a good save, but that's exactly what Van Ryn produced to preserve the Knights’ lead. Brandeis was out of time and Calvin came out the victors.


Brandeis finishes their season with a record of 13-6-4 having reach the national semifinals for the fourth time in program history and the first time since 1984. Calvin improves to 23-2-0 and reaches the championship match for the third time in eight years. They will meet Tufts in Saturday's final.

Other Semifinal Recaps:  Men's Semifinal 1 Women's Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2
No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.