Breaking News

Owls topple Little Giants, advance to NCAC finale

GAMBIER, Ohio — The No. 3-ranked Kenyon College men’s soccer team ran its unbeaten streak to 17 games after recording a 4-0 win against Wabash College in Tuesday’s semifinal round of the North Coast Athletic Conference postseason tournament.

Kenyon, now with a 16-0-1 record, will host the NCAC Championship game on Saturday. The Owls’ opponent will be the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal game between Denison University and host Ohio Wesleyan University.   

As the final count indicated, Tuesday’s semifinal was dominated by the Owls, who racked up a 24-7 margin in shots taken and a 10-4 advantage in corner kicks.

The home team was in control from the start, but struggled to capitalize on early chances. Scott Upton had the Owls’ first legitimate threat with a shot from the left side of the box in the game’s eighth minute. His attempt, however, zipped wide of the right post. Nine minutes later, Sebastian Gaese put a header on target, but Wabash keeper Soren Russell reached up and made a great save to rob Gaese.

In the 34th minute, the Kenyon pressure finally cracked the Wabash defense. A throw-in from Aidan Burns down the right side found the head of Mac Nardiello-Smith, who flicked it forward. The lead found the feet of Isaac Cortez, who placed the ball into the lower right corner of the Little Giants’ net. The goal was Cortez’s third of the season and it held up as the game-winner.

Prior to reaching halftime, Atli Hrafnkelsson had a great look for Kenyon. His close-range shot on goal was stopped by Russel, who dove to his left and got his left hand on the ball before it reached the goal line.

Carrying that one-goal advantage through the break, Kenyon got a little more breathing room early in the second half, as a Wabash miscue led to an own goal and a 2-0 Kenyon advantage. A pass intended for Sam Carson caused a four-person collison near the Wabash left post. The ball ended up bouncing off the back of a Wabash defender’s leg and into the net.

Shortly after that, Gerardo Martinez had a couple of looks for the Owls. Within a two-minute span he uncorked two shots, but both missed to the left. A minute after that, Nardiello-Smith took a tough angle and let a shot loose that rang off the left post.

Martinez’s persistence paid off in the game’s 61st minute. Following a free kick, the ball made its way to the left side, where a Kenyon cross dropped into the box. A Wabash defender got his foot on it, but his attempt at clearing went right to Martinez, who fired in his second goal of the season from the top of the box.

In the game’s 75th minute, it was Alem Duratovic’s time to shine for the Owls. He picked up a loose ball in the middle of the field, turned and juked one Wabash player. Moving to his left, Duratovic cleared enough space to launch a left-footed shot into the lower right corner of the goal. That improved his team-leading totals to 13 goals and 28 points this season.

The Kenyon defense, which has seven shutouts in its last eight games, allowed just two Wabash shots on goal, both of which were saved by goalkeeper Jack Pedreschi, who lowered his goals against average to 0.39, a top-10 mark among all players in NCAA Division III.

For Wabash, the season came to a close with a 12-6-1 record. 

Check Also

Tyler’s Guardians Talk

Your home for the Cleveland Guardians is 100.9 FM and 93.7 HD2. Tyler has you …