Messiah racks up ninth national championship, tops Ohio Northern
SAN ANTONIO -- Messiah Falcons reclaimed their NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship with a 5-1 victory Saturday against Ohio Northern at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
Messiah, won its ninth championships, and the first since 2010, completed its quest with an undefeated 23-0-2 record. It also marked the ninth time the Falcons played in the final game, and upped its championship matchup record to 9-0.
"There are definitely times when losses can be helpful," said Messiah coach Brad McCarty, who has now captured three national crowns in his four year as the Falcons skipper. "You lose a game, and you lose focus. One of the things we do really well is maintain that focus. It's hard to do, game in and game out, throughout the season.These guys play well every game, and invest in each other. That says a lot about the players and the program. "
Last season, the Falcons lost in the NCAA second round in overtime to Neumann, at Grantham, Pa.
But the word "lost" was not in Messiah's vocabulary Saturday in San Antonio. Messiah took a 4-0 lead in the first half, and never looked back. Brian Ramirez put the Falcons on the board in the sixth minute, followed four minutes later by a scoring play by Mike Kovach. Carter Robbins scored in the 16th minute, and Jeremy Payne added a fourth goal in the 19th. Five minutes into the second half, Payne produced his second goal of the game. Ohio Northern's only score came from Cameron Johnson in the 54th minute.
"They were all over us in the very beginning," Ohio Northern 15th-year coach Brent Ridenour said. "They did a good job of keeping the ball at our end and not letting us breathe a little bit. They didn't let us get in our flow and rhythm, and that hurt us in the first half. But, it's exciting that we've made four NCAA tournaments in a row."
Both teams had close semifinal games on Friday. Messiah had to go to overtime to beat No. 4 Loras 1-0. Kovach had the game-winner in each game. Ohio Northern edged No. 9 Williams 3-2. v The Falcons allowed 10 goals during the season, including two in the semifinals and final. Senior Logan Thompson, named the Tournament Defensive MVP, credits his younger teammates for their success. Messiah outshot Ohio Northern 23-15, and led 9-2 in shots on goal.
"We knew that Ohio Northern had talented wingers," said Thompson, who will graduate with a degree in Christian ministries. "I was talking to some of the other defenders, and we came to the concusion that they are not any better than we face in practice every day. That prepared us. I think it really helps us going against our junior and sophomore wingers."
Kovach was named Offensive MVP, and was joined on the All-Tournament Team, in addition to Logan Thompson, by sophomores Payne, Brandon West, and Jack Thompson. Ohio Northern gained slots from Shintaroh Itoh, Austin Windsor, and Nate Bascom.