With a 1-0 loss to top-seeded Heidelberg on Nov. 4, John Carroll University men’s soccer closed the books on yet another season.
The Blue Streaks had little time to mend the wounds of an inauspicious run that saw them lose four of their last six regular season Ohio Athletic Conference contests. Nevertheless, the quarterfinal matchup Nov. 2 pitted them against the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders, a team that handed them a 1-0 loss just a few weeks earlier.
Early in the second half it looked as if John Carroll was going to be sent home from Alliance without any hope of playing another OAC game in 2010.
In the game’s 52nd minute, the Purple Raiders held a 2-0 lead.
“The mindset of the team after that second goal was the same as when we came on the field for the second half. We knew we had to come out hard in the second half and really put away some of our chances and get the momentum back,” said freshman Kevin McKamish.
The Blue Streaks responded quickly as junior Kyle Buxman netted his third goal of the season to cut the lead in half just two minutes after John Carroll surrendered the second goal.
Buxman then set up McKamish for the equalizer in the 71st minute.
“I knew someone would get the second goal to tie it up. It just happened to be me,” said McKamish. “[Kyle] played me a great ball and I had an opening to volley it with my left foot right past the goalie.”
The mood then quickly turned sour in the 79th minute as Mount Union scored a third goal that put the Blue Streaks on the ropes.
The last ten minutes saw a barrage of shots against Mount Union goalkeeper Jonathan Critell but none would penetrate the twine. Eventually McKamish would launch an attempt from beyond 25 yards that found its way behind Critell to tie the game at three with just three minutes remaining.
“The feeling on the field was not like we were down by a goal with 12 minutes left. The team responded extremely well and I was feeling very confident that we would get one before regulation, possibly even two,” said McKamish.
After two sessions of scoreless overtime, JCU capitalized on all five shootout chances, thereby advancing to the semifinals to face Heidelberg University.
Conditions in Tiffin during the second round matchup against the ‘Berg foreshadowed the night for the Blue Streaks: dreary.
As a steady rain fell to the playing surface, John Carroll struggled to find the net on 14 shots. Heidelberg sophomore Grant Beck scored the only goal of the contest as the Student Princes advanced to the OAC Championship.
“The more you have invested, the tougher it is to go out like that. And these guys have invested a lot. It’s the risk you take when you go after a championship,” said senior captain Jeff Kosek. “But heads are up and there are still great players returning for next season.”
The Blue Streaks, fifth in the OAC at the end of the regular season, finished 11-9-1.