The SVSU men’s soccer team’s season came to an end Friday, Nov. 10, in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, as it fell to Davis and Elkins College on penalty kicks.
Following 90 minutes of regulation and two overtimes, the match, held at Ohio Valley University in Vienna, West Virginia, was still knotted at one goal apiece.
However, SVSU missed each of its penalty kicks, and Davis and Elkins slid two shots past sophomore goalkeeper Connor Keane to move the Senators on to the second round against Ohio Valley.
“To lose on penalty kicks is a lottery,” head coach Andy Wagstaff said. “I spoke to (Keane) and challenged him to make at least one big-time save, and he made three. You cannot ask for anymore from your keeper, and he has been outstanding this year.”
Early in the first half, SVSU held much of the ball, earning two early shots from senior forward Matt Wilson.
However, the Senators snuck a goal past Keane and the SVSU defense in the 21st minute off of a corner kick that was headed in by junior defender Friedrich Peter to put Davis and Elkins in front 1-0.
“I was happy with the first 20 minutes of play,” Wagstaff said. “Then they scored against the run of play, and it shocked us.”
The shot gave the Senators the momentum, and they held most of the possession for the remainder of the half but were unable to double their lead, sending the match into halftime 1-0.
“The last 20 minutes of the first half they dominated us, and we needed to regroup at halftime,” Wagstaff said. “The second-half was night and day compared to the first half. We played with fight and passion, and we were unlucky to not score more than one goal.”
The second half was all Cardinals. After an early shot from senior defender Dom Hart went wide, SVSU finally got on the scoreboard in the 54th minute, when junior forwards Michael Shaikly and Chris Jacovou connected for the equalizing goal. The goal marked Jacovou’s fourth of the season.
From there, SVSU continued to pressure the Senator defense, outshooting the Senators 11-4 in the half. However, just Jacovou’s shot found the back of the net, and the match went into overtime.
“From the performance in the second half, there was nothing that needed to change,” sophomore midfielder Pablo Ortiz said. “We were just unlucky in front of goal, but we gave it our all.”
SVSU outshot the Senators 3-1 in the first overtime but were unable to come up with a golden goal. Following a similar result in the second overtime, the match went to penalty kicks.
Unfortunately, SVSU missed all of its penalty shots, and Davis and Elkins was able to bury two, moving the Senators on to the second round of the playoffs and sending the Cardinals home.
“We had an amazing team this year, just a bit unlucky near the end of the season with scoring,” Ortiz said. “We’re losing a couple great players. But most of our key players are juniors, so we’re staying very positive for next year.”
SVSU finishes its season 13-4-2, a year in which the Cardinals at one point climbed to No. 4 in the country and were runners-up in both the GLIAC regular season and conference tournament.
“We had pretty much a brand-new team from last year’s group that won the league,” Wagstaff said. “We were young this year and showed great character and quality to be in the running for the league, the league cup and a run in the NCAA. We will come back next year even stronger.”