NCAA Division III

Division III men’s soccer Final Four recap: Rutgers-Camden, Messiah advance for local final

Photo: Courtesy of Rutgers-Camden Athletics

While it was in the low 30’s in San Antonio, the action on the soccer pitch kept the fans screaming and jumping through both men’s soccer semi-finals. With wins by both Rutgers-Camden and Messiah, the 6:30 EST final will feature two local teams. For Messiah it is their 10th trip to the final, while Rutgers reaches their first. Below we take a look at how each team advanced in their respective final.

Rutgers-Camden 3-2 (OT) Loras

Coming into their first Final Four appearance, Rutgers knew that their opponent Loras had failed to score in three games and that was imperative to strike first. In the 13th minute Rutgers took the early lead. Stevan Austino dribbled  towards the box, and passed the ball to an open Mike Ryan, who took a somewhat unbalanced shot that nestled into the right side netting. Loras looked to storm back, but their ample chances lacked quality finishing. As a result, Rutgers’ keeper Mike Randall only had to make two first-half saves.

After the intermission, Loras continued to pressure offensively and forced Randall to make three saves in a four minute span. Loras’ equalizer would finally come in the 80th minute. The goal by Richard Lenke ended their Final Four scoreless streak at 378:22. In case you were wondering, that streak included four games with two games ending in OT.

With the game now tied 1-1, Loras continued to pressure the Scarlet Raptors defense. Five minutes later, Loras’ Tim van den Bergh headed the go-ahead goal off a cross from Johnny Rummelhart. This goal seemed to be the game-winner with only 5:42 remaining, but it’s not over until the final whistle.

As the pace picked up with Rutgers looking for the last-minute equalizer, Loras subbed on an extra defender in hopes of preserving their lead. In the 88th minute, a headed ball following a Rutgers corner kick landed at Taylor McGrory’s feet and he sent it on frame and towards Loras’ goal-line wall. Somehow the ball got past the goalie and the defenders and barely, but fully, crossed the line. The near-side linesman, who was standing in perfect position to see the goal on the endline, signaled for a goal with his flag. This caused some confusion with some of the players thinking the linesman had signaled for offside.

After 90 minutes of gut-wrenching soccer, the game headed into overtime. In the 92nd minute, Rutgers earned a free kick from 75 yards out. Keegan Balle’s delivery drifted over the mass of Rutgers and Loras players in the box before somehow finding a gap between the keeper and goal and bouncing into the back of the net.

The improbable goal set Rutgers cheering and Balle running towards the crowd, while a stunned Loras side looked on in disbelief .

Balle said after the game, “When I took the free kick and hit it, I tried to keep it in the frame of the goal. The fact that it went in is incredible.” It was his eighth goal of the season and first game-winning tally.

While the players were celebrating, Rutgers eighth-year head coach Tim Oswald hugged everyone he could. “A lot of hugs, a lot of running around…it was a special goal,” Oswald described.

More recaps from NCAA.com, Rutgers Athletics and Examiner. You can view a full replay of the game here.

Messiah 4-0 Williams

While the Messiah-Williams game had similar pace to the Rutgers-Loras match, the final scoreline looked much different.

Williams had two dangerous scoring chances early on, but both went over the crossbar.

Then in the seventh minute, a shot from Messiah’s Brian Ramirez’ deflected off a defender towards goal. By the time goalie Peter Morrell reacted, the ball was already into the net. The Falcons scored again 18 minutes later when Mike Kovach dribbled past his defender and towards the endline. His cross found an open Jeremy Payne who headed home his 16th goal of the year to put Messiah up 2-0 heading into half-time.

Out of the break, Williams looked to cut their deficit, but their early offensive pressure didn’t result in any decent scoring chances.

In the 59th minute, Messiah found the net again when Ramirez’ corner into the box connected with Carter Robbins. With a man on the left post, Robbins’ header found the small space between the defender and the post to make it 3-0.

The Falcons continued to pressure the Williams defense and capped off the scoring four minutes later. In the 63rd minute, Josh Wood dribbled past his defender to go one-on-one with the Williams goalie, who made a diving, goal-stopping save. However, with the goalie scrambling back into position, Danny Brandt found the lose ball and sent a bending strike into the top right corner of the net.

With the 4-0 win over Williams, Messiah advances to their 10th National Championship. Historically, Messiah is a perfect 9-0 in final appearances.

More recaps from NCAA and Messiah Athletics. You can view a full replay of the game here.

A Messiah-Rutgers final

Rutgers-Camden and Messiah have not met since 1974. In fact, Rutgers-Camden was then know has Rutgers South Jersey. The Scarlet Raptors are looking to stay unbeaten and cap-off their historic season with the first title. However, it will not be easy as Messiah has been here before and Rutgers will need to get over their Final nerves early on, or else they could quickly find themselves in the hole.

After the win over Williams, Messiah coach Brad McCarty spoke about the Rutgers-Camden squad and the NJAC conference in general.

“Rutgers has a lot of talent, and they have guys who have scored a lot of goals,” McCarty said. “We have a lot respect for teams from the NJAC — they’re tough and they go hard all the time, and we expect Rutgers to be very similar. We were fortunate to get some substitutes in tonight and we’ll be ready for tomorrow. I don’t think any player from either team will be tired tomorrow.”

One streak will end Saturday. Either Rutgers’ win-streak of 11 games will end, or Messiah’s perfect final appearance record.

The final will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. EST and will be streamed live at NCAA.com. If you can’t watch follow me at @falconnation512 on Twitter for live updates and analysis as the action unfolds.

 

3 Comments

  1. i was on the 1974 rutgers team that faced messiah. we were known as rutgers-camden at that time. it was years earlier when the campus was known as Rutgers College of South Jersey.

  2. Pingback: PSP’s Best of 2013

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