King’s Soccer Knocked out of Nationals Tournament

 USCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, Spencer Smith chases after the ball during Saturday’s game against Johnson and Wales University Charlotte. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

USCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, Spencer Smith chases after the ball during Saturday’s game against Johnson and Wales University Charlotte. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

 

The King’s College Lions had a “tough loss,” junior midfielder Josiah Simons said about the game at USCAA Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va.

The Lions were defeated by Johnson and Wales University Charlotte with a score of 5-0, knocking them out from a chance to play at the finals game on Monday.

They still have one game left on Sunday against SUNY ESF, who also lost to Johnson and Wales 2-0.

The Lions played defensively in the first ten minutes of the game with several tackles from freshman defender Ben Oldham. The game started out with conservative playing, with each team trying to feel the other team out. 

“They’re not looking to make mistakes that could cost them a goal,” athletic director Bryan Finley explained while adding that games that are of higher stake usually start out that way.

But as the game continued and as both teams began to grow comfortable, the risks intensified and the Lions took five shots at the goal, not making any.

The Lions had three corner kicks which Finley saw as the best opportunity for the team to score and made them “fairly dangerous.”  

 Freshman Isaiah Williams shot all three corner kicks in the first half of the game. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

Freshman Isaiah Williams shot all three corner kicks in the first half of the game. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

“Johnson and Wales seem equally dangerous on free kicks around the King’s penalty areas.”

Finley expressed that Johnson and Wales had three or four shots that were “too close for comfort.” And because they pressed on the team in the penalty areas, they were able to score their first goal, passing by midfielder Daniel Fuenzalida with three minutes left in the first half.

 Johnson and Wales score their first goal against King’s. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski

Johnson and Wales score their first goal against King’s. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski

Five seconds were left on the clock for the first half when sophomore Edvin Loefgren took a last shot at the goal, saved by Johnson and Wales goalie Julio Pena.

As King’s rested during half time, Coach Tom Harman planned to continue the team’s “4-2-3-1” strategy that had brought King’s to have a successful season. This formation means having four defenders, two defensive midfielders, three midfielders, and one forward on the field.

The team went into the second half trying not to be discouraged by the setback and were set on getting back at Johnson and Wales.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Johnson and Wales scored a second goal blowing past several of King’s defensive players. As Johnson solidified their chance to make it to the national finals, the Lion’s players on the bench gripped their heads in distress wondering if they had a chance to make the final game of the tournament.

“When they scored the second goal, you could feel in the team it was going to be much harder,” Simons said.

 The team reacts to Johnson and Wales scoring their first goal. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

The team reacts to Johnson and Wales scoring their first goal. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

That’s when Harman took a risk— change the formation.

The formation became “3-2-1-4” according to Simons who added that they’ve “never played that formation before.”

At 64 minutes, Johnson and Wales scored their third goal.

At 73 minutes, they scored their fourth.

Five minutes later, they scored their fifth when goalie Craig Wishart passed the ball in front of the goal which allowed Johnson and Wales player Brandon Greene to intercept it and kick the ball into the fairly-open net.

The formation change was a risk that didn’t end up working, which allowed Johnson and Wales to “counter-attack again and again,” Simons explained. In high-level tournaments, risks like these may be necessary for success but sometimes they fail.

When the time ran up, it became official that Johnson and Wales were going to make it the final game on Monday.  

 The team gathers around Coach Tom Harman before the game against Johnson and Wales. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

The team gathers around Coach Tom Harman before the game against Johnson and Wales. || Photo credit to Bernadette Berdychowski.

Though the team was discouraged by the loss, most members are excited to take on a team they know very well: SUNY ESF who have also been knocked out from the tournament. SUNY defeated the Lions twice this season, but some members of the team believe that they have the talent and ability to defeat them at last.

The final game for the Lions this season will take place on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.

“It’s about honor,” Simons said excited for what the next game could bring out of the team.

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