Nov. 21, 2009

Courtesy of Calvin

PITTSBURGH, PA - The Calvin men's soccer team has advanced to the national quarterfinals of the NCAA III Tournament. The Knights moved on in the NCAA III Tournament with a 2-1 victory over host Carnegie-Mellon late Friday night.

Calvin (17-4-2) will face Transylvania in Saturday's national quarterfinal at 7:00 p.m. (EST). Transylvania advanced to Saturday's quarterfinals by winning a penalty kick shootout over Swarthmore Friday night.

The contest will mark Calvin's second foray into the national quarterfinals as the Knights also achieved the feat in 1980.

Calvin's game against Carnegie-Mellon (16-3-1) featured late-game fireworks in the way of goal scoring.

Calvin broke a scoreless tie with a goal by junior back Kyle Billin (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) with just over 15 minutes left in regulation. The play began with a long throw-in by sophomore Tyler Vegter (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) that was flicked over to Billin by freshman Chris Nance (Washington, MI/Warren DeLaSalle HS).

Calvin then took what appeared to be a commanding 2-0 lead on a goal by junior Brad Heethuis (Jenison/Unity Christian HS) with 8:57 left in regulation. The Heethuis goal was set up by a rush up the right wing by junior Scott Hooker (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) who slid a pass through the goalmouth that Heethuis banged in for his six goals of the season. The goal by Heethuis would prove to be the winning goal as Carnegie-Mellon struck back just 30 seconds later on a goal by All-American forward Ricky Griffin to slice the deficit in half.

Carnegie-Mellon then mounted a final furious charge at the Knights and nearly found the equalizer on a direct kick from 25 yards out with just over a minute to play that was saved by
Calvin junior goalkeeper Ryan Bratt (Silver Spring, MD/Washington Christian Academy) with a sprawling save.

The Tartans then collected a corner kick but the corner was headed out of danger by Calvin in the closing seconds, allowing the Knights to pull out the win.

"Wow. What a game," said Calvin men's soccer coach Chris Hughes afterward. "Carnegie-Mellon has a fantastic team. A really wonderful team but our boys were up to the challenge tonight and matched their effort. I thought our defensive backline was tremendous, particularly senior Greg Snapper and junior Lucas Wilgenburg. We also received huge contributions from Kyle Billin and Dan Nederhoed on defense. Nederhoed was just splendid on both ends of the field."

Calvin finished the game with a 12-11 shots at goal advantage. Bratt recorded six saves for Calvin in just his fourth start in goal for the Maroon and Gold.

"Ryan Bratt was just stellar again," said Hughes. "We have all the confidence in the world in him. He stepped up and made a huge save on that direct kick. He played the shot with textbook form."

Calvin will now turn its attention to Transylvania, a squad that upset Ohio Wesleyan 1-0 a week ago and then battled Swarthmore to a 0-0 tie before winning in a penalty kick shootout.

"Tranyslvania is a very dangerous side," said Hughes. "They have a dangerous counterattack and are very strong on defense. We'll have our hands full tomorrow night."

Saturday's national quarterfinal game will begin at 7:00 p.m. (EST) at Carnegie-Mellon with the winner advancing to the NCAA III Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, December 4 & 5.