The Elizabethtown College men’s soccer team watched their season and postseason run end in a 0-0 (5-3 PK) MAC Commonwealth Conference Championship loss to the Lycoming College Warriors on Saturday.
In the middle of last week, the Blue Jays received the good news that senior defender Kyle Volk was named to First Team All-Conference, and Etown defeated No. 3 seed Alvernia University in penalty kicks on Wednesday night to advance to the conference championship. Shortly after that win, the team found out that No. 1 seed Messiah College was knocked out of the playoffs by underdog Lycoming, a game that also ended in penalty kicks. The championship game was set to be Etown versus Lycoming, and since the Blue Jays were the higher seed, they hosted the championship game at Ira R. Herr field on Saturday.
This was the first time the Blue Jays competed in the championship game since 2010. In that game, they lost 1-0 to Messiah. They looked to earn their first Commonwealth Conference championship since 2006.
The first half did not yield many chances for either team. The Blue Jays had three shots to Lycoming’s two, but neither side put a shot on target. The Warriors had three first-half corner kicks and Etown had only one.
The second half was a different story with the same ending. Eight different Etown players recorded a total of 14 shots in the second half, and the Blue Jays defense held the Warriors to only three shots. Unfortunately for the Jays, they were unable to notch a single goal, and the game headed into the first overtime period.
Etown could not roll over their second-half dominance into overtime. The first 10-minute overtime period consisted of a single shot. Etown’s leading goal-scorer, junior Andrew Sandridge, rang a shot off the post in the 96th minute, but that was the closest to production either team would get through the first overtime. There were two Lycoming shots and a single Blue Jay shot in the second overtime, but ultimately, the game had to be decided with penalty kicks. It was the second straight game that Etown had to try and win in penalty kicks.
Lycoming had the first penalty shot opportunity and the Warriors’ Kevin Seymour put it in to take a 1-0 lead. Junior Zach Hollinger answered back with a goal of his own to tie it up at 1-1 before Luke Klingler put the Warrior’s back up 2-1 with the third penalty shot. Lycoming goalkeeper Connor Keenan came up with his biggest save of the season when he denied a penalty shot off the foot of junior Eric Borkowicz, keeping the Warriors up by one goal through two rounds, with three rounds remaining. Adam Kuntz and junior Kyle Fowler traded goals in the third round and Keenan and junior Dylan Sisler did the same in the fourth to make the score 4-3 in favor of Lycoming through four rounds. When the Warriors’ Trevor Bishop hit the back of the net on his shot, clinching the game and the championship, the Lycoming players and fans broke out into wild celebration.
The home crowd at Ira R. Herr field left the game shocked at what had just unfolded. The Blue Jays had already beaten Lycoming this season 2-1, and Etown was the favorite to win the championship, given Messiah’s early departure, but the Warriors proved to be a very resilient team in the playoffs.
Having entered the playoffs as the No. 5 seed, the lowest seed that makes the playoffs, Lycoming took down Lebanon Valley College in the semifinal play-in game, No. 1 seed Messiah in the semifinals, and No. 2 seed Etown in the championship game. In those three games, the Warriors were outshot 69-19, but managed to fight their way through three double-overtime games, including two that were decided in penalty kicks. With the championship win, they receive the automatic NCAA qualifier bid.
The Blue Jays finished the season with a record of 10-6-4, compared to last season’s record of 10-7-3. Next season, Etown will begin play in the Landmark Conference with the Catholic University of America, Drew University, Goucher College, Juniata College, Moravian College, Susquehanna University, the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the University of Scranton. This season, the Blue Jays tied Scranton, who was ranked 10th in the nation at the time, and they defeated Susquehanna 3-1.