November 30, 2018

Calvin surges into the Final, 4-1 over Chicago

Other Semifinal Recaps:  Men's Semifinal 2 Women's Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2
Bobby McCaw opened the scoring for Calvin in the early men's semifinal.

By Contributor

Photos by Dave Hilbert,

The early men's semifinal began much as expected with Chicago and Calvin trading offense forays in the opening 10 minutes. But Calvin would be on the front foot for much of the remainder of the opening stanza, and after two golden chances were superbly saved by the Maroons keeper, the Knights deservedly jumped in front 2-0 with goals just minutes apart. Chicago would immediately respond with a goal of their own, but that barely slowed Calvin down who continued to be dangerous and extended their lead shortly before halftime. Chicago looked improved and more determined in the second half but couldn't find the breakthrough needed before Calvin struck again in the 65th minute. With the score 4-1, the outcome was no longer in doubt and Chicago's season came to a disappointing end while Calvin booked their place in their second national final in three years.

First Half

Chicago looked bright off the opening kick-off, pinning Calvin in their defensive half for the first three minutes of the game. Goalkeeper Chris Morrish had to be quick and alert to smother a centering pass before Max Lopez could reach it for a shot on goal. However, the Maroon dominance would only last five minutes before Calvin got a footing in the game. And that footing soon turned into a dominance as Calvin was began taking advantage of Chicago's narrow formation by quickly advancing the ball on the outside before tormenting Chicago's back line with attack after attack.

Calvin nearly opened their account ten minutes in. A clearing kick by Chicago's goalkeeper Aaron Katsimpalis was short and Calvin took advantage with Dillon Weldy winning a 50-50 ball on the left sideline, then finding Ian Adams in the box who squared to Bobby McCaw near the penalty spot but his shot from 9 yards out was kick-saved by Katsimpalis at near point-blank range. Little more than a minute later, Katsimpalis needed by at his best again when McCaw slotted a diagonal pass to Jacob Witte entering the area, but his shot from 9 yards was block and then covered by the keeper.

Momentum was growing for the Knights, but Chicago would have the occasional foray into the offensive third. In the 16th minute Chicago defender Scott Lich got forward on the left to receive a crossfield service near the corner of the area and nearly found the feet of Lopez, but goalkeeper Morrish was off his line to scoop the pass up at the corner of the 6-yard box.

But the Maroons were spending most of their time defending and the Knights were deserving leaders when they finally got on the scoreboard in the 28th minute. A Chicago foul on McCaw set up a Calvin free kick ten yards past midfield and the service toward the far (left) post was only headed a few yards back by the Chicago defender and McCaw was there to one-time the ball before it could hit the ground and the bouncing shot streaked between the keeper and the post for a goal.

Less than two minutes later Calvin doubled their lead when Adams beat his man on the left touchline, then, shoulder-to-shoulder with a second defender as he cut into the area, kicked the ball over the keeper and off the underside of the crossbar. Whether it was an attempted shot or cross, whether it took a slight deflection off the defenders foot, it went in the scorebook as goal number two for the Knights as it bounced into the back of the net.

Calvin's Ian Adams looks to beat Chicago's Isaiah Holquist.

The Maroons, finding themselves trailing by two goals for the first time all season, got the response they needed off the ensuing restart. They advanced the ball into the attacking third and after re-winning the ball, a pass came to Matthew Koh near the left corner and he beat his defender along the endline before trying to squeeze a shot in at the near post. The keeper went down for the save but the ball bounced off his leg and toward the middle of the goalmouth where Dayo Adeosun's shoulder made sure the ball got across the line to cut the Knight's lead in half.

Calvin seemed unfazed by the set-back and needed just 12 seconds to get off another shot, super-substitute Lucas Albrecht volleying the ball way over the net off a cross from the right. The Knights created three more shots in the following two minutes, all blocked, before Katsimpalis extinguished three dangerous opportunities in the next few minutes. First the Maroon keeper rose to take the ball of Drew Van Andel's head from a long throw-in by Travis Vegter, then he intercepted a centering header from McCaw off an Olson throw-in, and finally he kicked the ball to safety two steps outside his box to end another Calvin attack.

In the 37th minute Chicago would prevent the Knights from passing out of their defensive half three times before getting the ball to Koh near the top of the box, but two attempts to get off a shot on the edge of the area were snuffed out by the defense. And then it was straight back down to the other end of the field with the Maroons needing the halftime break to rest and regroup.

With the clock ticking under four minutes, Chicago would have been happy to get into the locker room down just one goal, but the Knights weren't finished. First McCaw banged a shot off the crossbar and after the ball ping-ponged around the area, Vegter's low shot past the keeper was cleared off the line. The Maroons wouldn't be able to stop the Knights next shot following a series of nifty passes. Right of center, McCaw chipped the ball to a just-onside Albrecht who cut the ball square across the top the area to Mason Smith who touched the ball to Olson. Olson let the ball run past before turning and shooting past Katsimpalis into the lower right side of the goal to give Calvin a commanding 3-1 lead heading into the interval.

Second Half

Even though it only took 27 seconds for Calvin to record another shot, Chicago showed more determination and assertiveness coming out of the break, making for a back-and-forth 50-50 game for stretches of the second half. In fact, the first ten minutes were perhaps the Maroon's best of the game. They doubled their shot count a few minutes in when Adeosun whistled one over the crossbar from outside the area. And a couple minutes later Koh earned Chicago a corner kick that was invitingly served to the far post, but was punched away by Morrish just before it could reach the head of Lopez.

With Calvin still pinned back, a centering pass from the left flank was misplayed by Van Andel. Rather than let the ball go over the endline for a corner kick, Lopez backheeled the ball to Adeosun who hit it enticingly across the goal area, but no Maroon was there to capitalize. Nevertheless, it was a positive spell for Chicago, but the deficit could have grown a minute later had Lich not intervened to slide-tackle the ball away from Jacob Witte after he beat two Chicago defenders at the top of the box.

WIth Calvin becoming less tidy in possession and defense, the quality that made Chicago UAA champions and national semifinalists could have gotten them back in the game. But the Maroons' efforts kept coming up a bit short. Though tightly marked, Lopez was able to get off a somewhat hopeful cross from the right side in the 56th minute, and it was cleared before Adeosun could get on the end of it. Two minutes later Renato Corghi and Lopez worked a give and go, but a Calvin double-team at the top of the box stopped Corghi from breaking in on goal. And after a longball was headed forward by Lopez in the 63rd minute, Koh's shot from inside the arc was comfortably saved.

Goal-scorer and provider embrace following Calvin's fourth goal.

In the 65th minute it would be Calvin on attack again. From the center of the field, Adams fed the ball to outside back Sam Twigg in acres of space down the right flank. He cut into the area and found an unmarked Weldy in the center of the box for a one-time left-footed shot into the back of the net, effectively ending the already remote chances of a Maroon comeback.

It was Twigg again a few minutes later, bursting into the area form the right and centering for Smith, but Katsimpalis smothered the ball just before it reached him. The Chicago keeper did even better with a kick save in the 73rd minute after a give-and-go with McCaw saw Witte charging into the area.

Chicago would create some half chances during the final quarter of an hour of the match with Koh still trying to make his mark in the game, finally with a free kick that the goalkeeper chose to punch away even though it may have been curling wide of the left post. The final whistle marked the end of the best four-year run in Chicago men's history while sending Calvin into their second national final in three years.


Besides the 4-1 scoreline, Calvin outshot Chicago 15-7 with an 8-4 advantage in shots on target and more corners, 5-1. The Maroons closed out the current season at 18-3-1, and the seniors, led by the highly decorated trio of Lopez, Koh and Nicco Capotosto, finish their collegiate careers with a 66-11-8 mark. Calvin's record improves to 22-1-0 ahead of a rematch of the 2016 Final that they lost in double-overtime to Tufts.


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Other Semifinal Recaps:  Men's Semifinal 2 Women's Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2
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