GRANTHAM, Pa. - The Calvin men's soccer team pulled off a stunning 2-1 double-overtime victory over fourth-ranked Messiah College in the sectional semifinals of the NCAA III Tournament Friday night.
Calvin advances to the national quarterfinals Saturday to face Franklin and Marshall (Pa.) in a match set to kick off at 5 p.m. at Messiah College.
Playing the tradition-rich Falcons on their home field, the 16th-ranked Knights (21-2-0) fell behind early as Messiah's Jacob Bender lashed a 25-yard strike into the top corner of the net to give the Falcons (19-1-3) a 1-0 lead just 7:17 into the match.
Messiah threatened to widen its lead on several ocassions as the first half continued. Calvin junior goalkeeper Nate Van Ryn (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian HS) was spectacular in nets however, stoning a clear break on goal by Kirby Robbins and later Bender. Messiah also skipped a shot off the Calvin crossbar in the first half but could not build a two-goal cushion.
With a new sense of energy, Calvin pressed the attack in the second half and found gold from a familiar source in the 65th minute as sophomore Bobby McCaw (Dubuque, Ia./Hempstead HS) threaded a shot through a forest of Messiah defenders into the back of the net. The goal by McCaw came off a corner kick by junior Matt Hinds (Frankenmuth, Mich./Frankenmuth HS) and was his seventh goal in the last five games including his third in NCAA III Tournament play.
McCaw threatened again in the 76th minute but his shot sailed just high. Junior Mitch Stark (South Lyon, Mich./South Lyon HS) also had a dangerous attempt that sailed high in the 84th minute.
Calvin outshot Messiah 3-0 in the first overtime session and carried the momentum into the second overtime session. With 4:22 left in overtime, Calvin was awarded a free kick just past midfield along the left wing after a Messiah foul. Senior Stephan Hooker (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS) bent the free kick into the box that was deflected right to the feet of sophomore Jacob Witte (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) who toe-poked a shot into the roof of the net to give the Knights a stunning sudden-death overtime victory.
The goal by Witte was his second game-winning goal in NCAA III Tournament play as he also scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Kenyon College in the national quarterfinals last November.
Messiah finished the game with an 18-13 shots at goal advantage but Calvin outshot the Falcons 12-5 over the final 63 minutes of the game
"I don't think anyone on our team will argue that we were completely outplayed in the first 45 minutes but Nate (Van Ryn) made some big saves and our back four made some good sticks to keep us in the game," said Calvin men's soccer coach Ryan Souders. "Messiah is an unbelievable team. They are the gold standard in Division III soccer so to win on their field is a pretty amazing feeling. We have all the respect in the world for their program and head coach Brad McCarty. To the credit of our team, they never gave up, showed fight and grit and were able to claw back. I though the work rate of our senior midfielders - Stephan Hooker, Isky Van Doorne (Calgary, AB/Western Canada HS) and Dave Waterson (Dewitt, Mich./Dewitt HS) was tremendous. This was a team win. The big challenge now to lick our wounds, regroup and refocus for a very tough game tomorrow night."
Calvin will be facing Franklin and Marshall (15-3-4) for the second straight year in NCAA III Tournament play. The Knights defeated the Diplomats 1-0 in a sectional semifinal last year. Franklin and Marshall defeated Cortland State Friday 1-0 in overtime to advance to play Calvin Saturday.
Calvin's victory over Messiah marked the second time the two teams have met in NCAA III Tournament play. Messiah defeated the Knights 2-0 in the 2009 NCAA III Championship final.
Calvin Men's Soccer Stuns Fourth-Ranked Messiah 2-1 in Double-Overtime in NCAA III Tournament Sectional Semifinal