GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The No. 4 Calvin men's soccer team defeated University of Wisconsin-Platteville 2-0 on Saturday evening at Zuidema Field to claim the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Regional Championship and advance to the third round of the National Tournament for the fourth straight year.
In Friday's regional semifinal matches, Calvin shut out Greenville 4-0, while UW-Platteville defeated Carthage 4-1.
"We're excited to still be playing. Survive and advance," said Calvin head men's soccer coach Ryan Souders. "It wasn't always pretty, but credit to UW-Platteville. They came in with a game plan and executed it. They're a good side, but somehow, some way, our guys found a way. I'd say that's pretty characteristic of this group, and certainly of our seniors. It's great to get a win."
The Knights played a dominant first half but were held scoreless until the late in the match when senior Jacob Witte (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) delivered two straight goals to lift Calvin to the win.
"The ball was bouncing around in the box, I saw an opportunity and took the shot," said Witte of his first goal that came in the 73rd minute. "It was just a relief to see the ball in the back of the net after we'd be fighting for a while. We did a good job of staying committed. They made it tough for us, so it was really good to get that goal."
Calvin controlled possession for the majority of the first half, earning a handful of scoring chances in the first half and racking up nine shots, but were unable to finish.
Platteville had a chance late in the first half, but Calvin goalkeeper sophomore Chris Morrish (Bradenton, Fl./Saint Stephan's Episcopal School) intercepted the crossing pass, and the two teams headed into the break knotted at zero. At halftime, the Knights held a 11-1 shots advantage, including three on frame.
The Pioneers' offense came out with new energy in the second half, but despite the pressure, Calvin's back line held strong.
In the 72nd minute, a Platteville player was issued a red card and Calvin was awarded a penalty kick. The Pioneer goalkeeper Nate Miller came up with a big save on junior Hunter Olson's (Canton, Mich./Canton) penalty shot to keep the match scoreless.
However, Calvin was quick to capitalize on the man advantage, as Witte scored less than a minute later. Junior Dillon Weldy (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) played the ball into the box where it was deflected off the foot of Olson to Witte on the right wing, who one-timed it home for the go-ahead goal.
Ten minutes later, Witte struck again, this time off a cross-box feed from McCaw. The Knights' offense remained dominant in the final 12 minutes of play, notching five shots and rolled to the shutout victory.
Calvin held a sizeable 23-2 shots advantage over the Pioneers. The trio of Olson, Witte and senior Trent Vegter (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian) collected five shots apiece.
The Knights will now travel to the campus of Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. The Knights will face Penn State-Behrend in a sectional semifinal game Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Host Case Western Reserve will face Kenyon in the first sectional semifinal on Friday.