GREENSBORO, N.C. - Calvin fell to Tufts University 2-1 in a hard-fought national championship final Saturday afternoon on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Tufts (18-0-3) pressed early and took the momentum with a goal just 1:50 into the match. The goal was scored by Calvin Aroh of Tufts who slipped into the top of the box to collect a back-pass and followed with a hard shot that deflected off a defender and into the corner of the net.
Calvin fired three shots at the Tufts goal including a dipping blast by freshman Sam Twigg (Aukland, New Zealand) in the 10th minute of play that just missed the far post.
Tufts put Calvin (22-2-0) back on its heels again with a goal in the 30th minute. The play began with a long throw-in from the left wing that skipped off the wet turf into the Calvin box. Zach Lane of Tufts was able to run on to the ball and head it home to give the Jumbos a 2-0 advantage.
Calvin sliced the deficit in half on a penalty kick goal by junior Hunter Olson (Canton, Mich./Canton HS). The goal came just 4:05 into the second half and was awarded after junior Ian Adams (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) was hauled down making a run with the ball through the Tufts penalty box.
Olson stepped up and cooly slipped a shot inside the right post for his 15th goal of the year including his third by way of penalty kick.
With a new lifeline, Calvin pressed for the equalizer and nearly came up with the tying goal on a handful of occasions.
Senior Jacob Witte (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) ripped a shot that ws saved in the 56th minute. In the 82 minute, Adams ripped a shot from the top of the box that was deflected just wide by a Tufts defender. Calvin had three more shots and three corner kicks in the closing minutes but did not find the back of the net.
The Tufts victory gave the Jumbos their third national title in five years including their second win over Calvin in a national championship final in three seasons. Calvin's game on Saturday marked its fourth appearance in the national championship final.
Calvin finished with a 13-7 shots at goal advantage including a 6-4 advantage in corner kicks. Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Morrish (Bradenton, Fl./St. Stephen's Episcopal School) had three saves in goal.
"Obviously we are disappointed," said Calvin men's soccer coach Ryan Souders. "I thought our guys fought hard and played well. Truthfully I thought our guys played well enough to earn a result and that's what is really frustrating. At the same time, you have to give a tip of the cap to Coach (Josh) Shapiro and Tufts. They played well and are deserved champions. We've been the bridesmaids a few times now and to be honest and I think we are getting a little tired of it. I'm super proud of our guys. I'll go to battle with them any day. I thought we were on the ball a lot, created some chances and unfortunately we were only able to get one (goal) back."
Named to the NCAA III Finals All-Tournament Team from Calvin were senior Trent Vegter (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS), Olson and Adams.
The national championship final concludes the collegiate careers for Calvin seniors Trent Vegter, Bobby McCaw (Dubuque, Ia./Hempstead HS), Jacob Witte (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS), Lucas Albrecht (Plymouth, Mich./Plymouth Christian HS), James Jeninga (Brookfield, Wisc./Milwaukee Lutheran HS), Daniel Norton (Wheaton, Il./Wheaton North HS), Reid Culberson (Elgin, Il./Wheaton Academy) and Luke Schepers (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS).
Collectively the group helped Calvin produce an overall won-loss record of 90-7-2 that includes four MIAA regular season titles, four MIAA Tournament crowns, four trips to the NCAA III Tournament, three trips to the national semifinals and two trips to the national championship final.
According to Souders, the impact of the senior group has more to do than just wins and losses. "Truthfully it has never been about those things and that's why I love these men and this program," said Souders. "It's never been about the national championship. Would we have loved to win one today? Absolutely. Would we love to win one someday? Absolutely. We still serve a very good God. That hasn't changed and that's not going to change. For us it's about honoring our King and spending time and growing together."