Calvin Men's Soccer Downs Diplomats to Advance to NCAA III Tournament Semifinals in Salem

Calvin Men's Soccer Downs Diplomats to Advance to NCAA III Tournament Semifinals in Salem

PRESS CONFERENCE

GRANTHAM, Pa. - For the fourth time in program history and for the second consecutive year, the Calvin men's soccer team is headed to the NCAA III Tournament semifinals.

The Knights punched their ticket to the NCAA III Tournament semifinals with a 4-1 come-from-behind victory over Franklin and Marshall (Pa.) Saturday night in a driving rainstorm on the campus of Messiah College Saturday evening.

Calvin advances to an NCAA III Tournament semifinal match on December 2 in Salem, Virginia, at 1:30 p.m. (EST).

The 16th-ranked Knights (22-2-0) will await the winner of tomorrow's national quarterfinal match between Brandeis University and Rutgers-Newark.

Calvin picked up its second victory in as many years over Franklin Marshall Saturday evening but did so this time in the national quarterfinal after defeating the Diplomats 1-0 in the Round of 16 of the NCAA III Tournament last year.

After a scoreless first half, it appeared that Franklin and Marshall (15-4-4) might turn the tables on the Knights in the 2016 tournament as the Diplomats scored just 3:40 into the second half of play Paul McWhirtner stung a shot from the right side of the box after receiving a square pass from teammate Ugo Okolie.

Calvin refused to back down and leveled the score in the 60th minute as senior Isky Van Doorne (Calgary, AB/Western Canada HS) was able to jump on a bouncing ball on the edge of the Franklin and Marshall box and lash a shot that deflected off a defender and into the back of the net.

The Van Doorne goal put added wind into the sails of the Knight ship as Calvin took a stunning 2-1 lead just 1:09 later on a quick counter-attack. Sophomore Jacob Witte (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) ignited the scoring play with a speedy rush through the midfield and sent a sublime through-ball pass to sophomore Bobby McCaw (Dubuque, Ia./Hempstead HS) that sprung McCaw clean on the goal.

With Franklin and Marshall goalkeeper Dave Reingold racing off his line, McCaw chipped a shot that deflected off the outstretched hand of Reingold and into the net. The goal extended McCaw's goal-scoring streak to six games and was his fourth in NCAA III Tournament play. Three of the four goals have been game-winners. It also marked his team-leading 16th goal of the season.

Calvin's electric scoring surge continued just nine minutes later as junior Matt Hinds (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth HS) bent a corner kick to the far post that freshman Jacob Lyon (Holt, Mich./Lansing Christian HS) met flush with a diving header, sending the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of his collegiate career.

In the 75th minute, senior Stephan Hooker (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS) got into the scoring parade, whipping in his ninth goal of the year from the top of the box after receiving a well-placed pass from McCaw.

Franklin and Marshall continued to press in the closing minutes but Calvin junior goalkeeper Nate Van Ryn (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian HS) was up to the task, making four of his season-high 12 saves as the Knights sealed their trip to Salem.

"I think the first challenge for our team was to try to recover physically and mentally from last night's win over Messiah," said Calvin men's soccer coach Ryan Souders. "Ultimately our team did a very good job of refocusing and recovering. Franklin and Marshall is a really good team and we have a lot of respect for their team and their coaching staff. I thought our team did a good job of weathering their goal and continuing to play the way we play."

According to Van Ryn, the momentum of Friday night's win carried into Saturday's contest against Franklin and Marshall. "We played very well in the second half last night and it gave us confidence tonight," said Van Ryn. "My defenders did a great job in front of me and I just tried to do the job I'm supposed to do in goal."

For Hooker, the trip to the NCAA III Tournament semifinals came down to applying offensive pressure. "We were able to switch the field an apply more pressure," said Hooker. "We did a much better job of moving the ball and that helped us get into the style of game we want to play."

Franklin and Marshall finished the game with a 23-22 shots at goal advantage but the Knights put 15 shots on frame, forcing Reingold into making seven saves and a centerback to also make a team save, clearing a first half shot by Calvin off the line.

"We'll enjoy this victory tonight but the goal after tonight is to refocus, regroup and get ready to play in two weeks," said Souders. "We know that whoever we play on December 2, it will be a top-notch opponent so our focus and preparation will have to be at a championship level."