Men’s soccer falls in Final Four

Men’s soccer saw its Div. III NCAA tournament run end with a 3-2 loss to Ohio Northern in the semifinals in San Antonio on Saturday. The loss followed an impressive run for the men, who bested Brandeis and Amherst in earlier rounds of the championship tournament on Nov. 17 and 18, respectively. The loss concludes the men’s season.

On Saturday, the Ephs got off to a strong start with a goal just 8:52 into the first half, when senior standout Patrick Ebobisse ’13 collected the ball off the sideline before feeding it to User Kushaina ’14, who found the back of the net for a 1-0 Williams lead. The goal boosted the junior to the top of the men’s scoring list: Kushaina and Mohammed Rashid ’16 have six goals apiece on the season.

The men’s lead was short-lived, however. Ohio Northern’s Nate Bascom snuck a shot past netminder Than Finan ’13 in the 15th minute, knotting the tally at 1-1. Neither team scored again in the first, and the men headed off the field still tied at halftime.

Ohio Northern charged out of the gate after the break, slipping a second ball past Finan at 51:43 for a 2-1 lead. Williams rallied back, however, and nearly managed to tie the score up again with back-to-back shots from Michael Madding ’15 and Rashid just a few minutes later, but neither player could find the back of the net.

Ohio Northern then opened its lead to 3-1 in the 77th minute, sneaking a ball past the backline off a corner kick. Co-captain Peter Christman ’13 attempted to turn the tide of the game with a goal at 88:03, but time expired before the men could finalize their comeback. The game ended with Williams down 3-2. Finan made nine saves on the day in his final collegiate contest.

While he expressed disappointment about the final result, co-captain Matt Ratajczak ’13 was proud of his team’s final stand in the tournament. “Everyone played a part in this NCAA tournament run, and we have nothing to hang our heads about,” he said.

Head Coach Mike Russo echoed Ratajczak’s sentiment. “We played well when we had the ball in San Antonio, as we created some very good scoring opportunities, but defensively we were slightly off our game, although Ohio Northern [was] a very good attacking team,” Russo said.

On Nov. 18, the men edged then-undefeated Amherst in penalty kicks to advance to the Final Four. Ebobisse found the back of the net in the fifth round of penalty kicks following 90 minutes of scoreless play. The win was particularly sweet, as the Ephs had tied the Jeffs 0-0 on Oct. 6 before losing 2-0 to them in the NESCAC finals on Nov. 4.

Prior to their quarterfinal win, the men topped Brandeis 1-0 on Amherst’s campus on Nov. 17 in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Ebobisse buried the ball in the back of the net in the 64th minute after collecting a pass from Rashid, yielding a 1-0 lead that the men maintained until the final whistle.

The season served as a fitting capstone for this year’s graduating class, made up of Ebobisse, Finan, Christman and Ratajczak. This talented class has amassed three Div. III NCAA tournament showings, three Little Three titles and two NESCAC finals appearances, as well as a host of individual accolades.

“It was a fantastic season and the seniors were instrumental in our success,” Russo said. “Overall, the season has been most enjoyable primarily because of the 26 quality young men we had on the squad.”