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Owls oust Oberlin to clinch NCAC Championship

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon College men’s soccer team closed out its 2023 regular season at home on Tuesday afternoon, and the Owls clinched sole possession of the 2023 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) regular-season championship with a 3-0 shutout of Oberlin College.

The Owls locked up the program’s eighth straight NCAC regular-season crown, Kenyon’s 14th overall. Kenyon put the cherry on top of a 14-3-0 record, including a flawless 8-0-0 record against league opponents. Additionally, Kenyon entered the game as the No. 23rd-ranked team in the United Soccer Coaches Division III poll, but the Owls moved up to No. 18 in the national standings after the organization released its weekly update during the game. On the other side, the Yeomen fell to 3-7-6 and 1-3-3 in conference contests.

It took a few minutes, but Kenyon took over the game in the blink of an eye early in the first half. The Owls scored three goals in a three-minute span, including two scores in the 13th minute. 

Joey Martens sparked the run, putting the Owls on the board after sending a rocket into the top right corner of the net from a few yards outside the box. The midfielder looked ready to pass the ball out to reset the offense, but a quick move toward the middle of the field gave Martens the room he needed for the score. The goal was Martens’ fifth this season and his fourth game-winner, which ties his teammate Alem Duratovic for the most in the NCAC.

Just 38 seconds later, Kenyon struck again. Isaac Cortez collected a loose ball in Oberlin territory after Gerardo Martinez dispossessed an opponent. Cortez drove to the right corner of the box, where he set up a streaking Eamon Dujakovich with a cross. Dujakovich nestled in between two Yeomen defenders and the keeper, and the junior needed just one touch to control the ball and wind up for a shot that found the back of the net.

Dujakovich made it back-to-back scores after doing it himself in the 16th minute, but another well-executed offensive possession set up the score. Matt Nguyen passed across the midfield line to Vic Bravo, who flipped the field with a great cross to Dujakovich. From the left corner of the box, Dujakovich dropped a defender, sped past another, and found enough room amongst five red jerseys to angle a shot into the bottom left corner of the net.

The midfielder’s two-goal game was his third this season, and he has scored a goal in four straight outings. Dujakovich matched Duratovic for the NCAC lead with 10 goals, and he moved past Duratovic for the conference lead in points, taking a 22-21 edge.

No more scoring took place outside of the three-minute stretch, and the Owls held the Yeomen without a shot on goal until the 89th minute. Still, Oberlin tested Jack Pedreschi twice at the end, but the junior saved both shots to preserve his eighth solo shutout and ninth overall. 

The Owls finished the game with a 19-7 edge in shots, a 9-2 advantage in shots on goal, and a 6-0 margin in corner kicks.

Kenyon has the weekend off and has more than a week to prepare for the 2023 NCAC Tournament. The Owls will host the first round of the four-team bracket on Wednesday, November 1, as Kenyon looks for its first NCAC Tournament Championship since going back-to-back in 2018 and 2019.

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