Nov. 13, 2010

Courtesy of Calvin Athletics

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - It's off to the races yet again for the victorious Calvin Knights after a thrilling match that went all the way to a penalty shootout against the Dominican Stars. The Stars got on the board early on in the second half to take the lead, but Calvin managed to equalize with just under 14 minutes to play and force overtime.

Two scoreless extra periods then went by, and the Knights clinched a bid to the Round of 16 in penalties as they outscored Dominican 3-1 in that do-or-die situation, with senior keeper Ryan Bratt (Silver Sprong, MD) making three monstrous saves to key the win.

A season ago these same two teams faced each other in the National semifinals, with Calvin emerging victorious late in that contest as well to make the national finals. Saturday needed similar heroics, and the Knights came from behind to secure the win.

"He [Bratt] just has a gift, and it gave our shooters an opportunity to clinch it," Hughes said of Bratt's big performance on the goal line. "He reads it and took care of it and he was just huge again."

In the first half both teams played defensive soccer, with Calvin leading the shot column 6-4, but offensive opportunities were certainly limited for both sides. Dominican did not take long to score once play resumed however as the Stars immediately got down the field and drew a free kick just outside the Calvin box. Still only 31 seconds into the half [46th minute], Dominican's Michael Kapusta (Bartlett, IL) would put that set piece ball into the back of the net for his team leading 15th goal of the season on a deflection off the Calvin wall.

Trailing for the first time in the game then, the Knights went into a much more aggressive mode, and the offense took over for the remainder of the match.

The equalizer came in the 77th minute off the head of Miles Colago (Anoka, MN), after Colago forced a throw-in for the Knights deep in Dominican territory. Calvin's Mike Sanderson (Grand Rapids, MI) threw a long ball into the Stars' box, and Colago got his head to the ball, flicking it past the keeper and into the net, his 4th goal of the year.

"The sign of a good team is being able to battle back from adversity and find that tying goal," Hughes said of the come from behind win. "Dominican is just a phenomenal program and so we're just happy to come away with the win."

Time would run out with Calvin still largely controlling the game, and both overtime periods would also pass without a winning goal.

In penalties, Dominican shot first, with Kapusta getting first blood on a close shot to the corner that Bratt barely missed on saving. Calvin's Scott Hooker (Hudsonville, MI) then went up and was stuffed by Dominican's Maxwell Gutbrod (Slinger, WI) to put Calvin behind 1-0. Bratt then came up huge against Dominican's Jeff Atkins (Naperville, IL) on a save that hit his hands and then the crossbar, barely not finding the net. Calvin's Dan Kmetz (Strongsville, OH) then buried a shot to know the score at 1-1.

Bratt read Ryan Roberts (Elmhurst, IL) of the Stars on the next shot and made an easy-looking save to swing momentum back towards the Knights, and Tyler Vegter (Hudsonville, MI) subsequently put Calvin ahead with a score. Bratt then made his third save of the shootout on Dominican's Andy Lynch (Hawthorn Woods, IL), and Calvin's Joe Broekhuizen (Grand Rapids, MI) clinched the win with the Knights' third score.

"We're going to focus on the next game now moving forward and the guys are excited," Hughes concluded.

The Knights will wait to see where they will end up next for the round of 16. Those next games will take place next weekend.