Men’s soccer competes in second round of NCAAs

Carnegie Mellon men’s soccer finished its season this weekend, falling to Ohio Wesleyan University after advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Tartans rolled over first round opponent Calvin College with a score of 3–0 before falling 3–0 to OWU.

Against Calvin, the men were able to dominate, wearing down the opposing team slowly but surely. The Tartans relentlessly took shots at the Calvin keeper throughout the first half in addition to making some spectacular defensive plays to keep the game tied at 0–0 going into halftime. In the 60th minute of play, juniors Ryan Browne and Ricky Griffin combined to give the Tartans the edge that broke open the game. Griffin sent a ball over the defense to Browne running down the sideline, and Browne managed to beat the goalkeeper to take a low shot to the opposite corner, which deflected off a defender and into the net, giving the men a 1–0 edge. From that point on, the Tartans took control of the game, scoring their second goal only two minutes later. Senior Patrick Lutz was able to control a bouncing ball and put it on frame; unfortunately, it was deflected by the keeper, but the deflection landed at the feet of Griffin who, with no hesitation, blasted a shot into the far corner of the net to put the Tartans up 2–0.

Later in the half, Griffin demonstrated the scoring flare that earned him co-MVP of the University Athletic Association (UAA) this past week. Griffin received a through ball on the left flank, which he collected and maneuvered past two Calvin defenders. There was nothing the Calvin defense could do to help their keeper once Griffin moved past their line and easily fired a shot into the net to seal the game for the Tartans with a 3–0 lead.

Following the Tartans’ victory Friday night, Ohio Wesleyan University and Susquehanna College played into double overtime before OWU scored with two seconds remaining to give them a berth into the second round against the Tartans. Saturday night, the Tartans and OWU played evenly before the Bishops broke through the Tartan defense to make the score 1–0 in the 19th minute of play. Bishop Tyler Wall played a hard ball over the head of junior defender Jon Hall to his teammate, who battled with Hall for possession. He was eventually able to collect the ball at his feet and take on Tartan goalkeeper Matt Bazin one-on-one, which resulted in a breakaway goal for the Bishops. The defensive lapse left a sour taste in the Tartans’ mouths as they continued to try to hold off the tough Bishops.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Wall again assisted on a Bishop goal when he beat Tartan defender Austin Good up the sideline, barely keeping the ball in play just before crossing it into the box. Bazin came out to make the save but was unable to hold onto the hard cross. As Bazin tried to reclaim the ball, Bishop player Phil Serfaty capitalized on the defensive mistake and finished into the net to give the Bishops a 2–0 lead going into halftime. Despite a great effort, the Tartans were unable to make a comeback in the second half and gave up one final goal in the second half. Bazin made the initial save off a Bishop shot, but the rebound landed directly at the feet of Serfaty, who finished for his second goal of the tournament. Bazin recorded 11 saves in his final collegiate game.

The Tartans finished their season 15–3–1, surpassing all expectations made in the beginning of the season.

When asked about the sentiment of the season’s conclusion, Hall praised the senior Tartans for their hard work and success over the past four years.

“Making the tournament was memorable for all of us, especially for our two seniors, Matt Bazin and Dan Brackley. They have both made a significant impact on our program and they will both be missed,” Hall said. “This year, they were the only two players on our team who have previously made the NCAA tournament and it was great we got to bring them back there again for their senior year.”

With only losing two seniors, this is likely to be the first of many trips the Tartans will make to the NCAA tournament in the upcoming years, and rookie head coach Aaron Lujan has certainly set the bar high for the men’s soccer program, accomplishing a feat few coaches ever achieve in their career in just one season.