By Agathe Vanmassenhove || Sports Reporter
This weekend marked the beginning of the NCAA tournament for the F&M men’s soccer team, with the first round held at Tylus Field on Friday, November 10th. The Dips faced off against Geneva, followed by a game between Denison and Connecticut College. The winners of these games played on Saturday to decide which team would continue in the NCAA tournament.
After a tough end of the season following a loss against Muhlenberg in the Centennial Conference Tournament semi-finals, the team had to bring back their previous high level of play to be able to have a chance to continue in the NCAA tournament. The team’s first game was against Geneva, a team known for their defensive tactics and physicality. Despite the difficulty of their matchup, the Dips managed to create several scoring opportunities with impressive passing and ball handling. Nico Gonzalez (#2) and Isaac Mintz (#22) both had impressive games, playing strong on-ball defense and protecting their goal. Their passes and vision of the game helped several offensive drives get past midfield.
Much of the game remained scoreless despite the Dip’s strong offensive game due to Geneva’s impressive defense. However, the winning goal was finally scored in an incredible counterattack, with a ball recovery by the F&M defense leading to a great action by Nic Pretruso (#26), scoring in a one-on-one against Geneva’s goalkeeper, and sending the Dip’s to the second round.
With Connecticut College qualifying with a 3-1 win against Denison, the Dips faced an even tougher opponent than the previous round. The Dip’s played with a passion, bolstered by the support of their fans as they played at Tylus Field. The teams played a relatively even match, with both teams failing to capitalize on their offensive momentum. Unfortunately, after the Dip’s defense lost the ball, the Camels were able to score the first goal of the game. The team quickly reacted, tying the game up as Koa Kaliebe (#34) headed in a beautiful pass from Philip Monos (#9), reinvigorating the team and the crowd.
As the game ended tied, two additional periods of ten minutes were added to the game. With neither team scoring during the extra time, the game was set to be decided by penalty kicks.
The penalty kick session started strong, as neither team missed any of their first five penalty kicks. After another two kicks per team were scored, F&M unfortunately missed for the first time, allowing Connecticut College to escape Tylus with the win. With the success of penalty kicks almost entirely up to chance, this was a difficult loss for the team to stomach, as the team played passionately for the whole game, only to lose due to a single shot.
Due to the loss in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament, the men’s soccer season is officially over. Hopefully, the team can follow up on their strong season and bring a championship home to Lancaster.
Sophomore Agathe Vanmassenhove is a Sports Reporter. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org