WHEATON, Ill. -- In a match that will go down as an instant classic in Kenyon history, the Lords knocked off its opponent to the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament. A cluster of freshmen provided a spark in the second half that willed the Lords on to a 2-1 victory against Wheaton (Ill.) on its home surface.
The win not only advances Kenyon (16-4-3) to the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament, but it also marks a significant moment in program history. With the Lords’ 2-0 win against Ohio Northern on Friday night, it marked their first national tournament win since the 2010 season. With Kenyon’s win against Wheaton, it marked the first time it won multiple games at the NCAA tournament since its national-runner finish in 1996. That year, Kenyon won four consecutive to play in the Division III national championship match before falling just short toTCNJ 2-1.
Wheaton entered the match riding off of a 2-1 win against Thomas More.
The Thunder outshot the Lords 12-5 and had a 3-0 advantage in corner kicks in the first half alone, but a combination of good fortune for Kenyon and fantastic play by Lords freshman goalkeeper Sam Clougher kept the Thunder off of the board. Clougher made a trio of saves in the first half, but none came at more clutch moments than his final three in the second half.
Wheaton once again started strong in the opening minutes of the second half, firing off three shots in the opening two minutes and one of those hitting the crossbar off of the foot of Adam Blackman. Slowly, the tide began to turn as Kenyon began elevating its play and dominating possession. Jeremiah Barnes and Tony Amolo each got shots on goal that were saved by Wheaton’s Derek Babb, but inclement weather and lighting forced an unforeseen stoppage. Play resumed after a short delay, but Kenyon’s offensive fire was far from extinguished.
Nearly 10 minutes of game time after the restart, Kenyon made its splash. Following a Wheaton shot and a Clougher save, the Lords played the ball forward to press into Thunder territory. Alistair Flynn dumped the ball down the left sideline where Josh Lee made a move of John Clark to create space. With no one in front of him, Lee lofted the ball toward the Wheaton cage where it kept drifting toward the right post. Fully extended, Babb failed to make the stop and the ball flied freely to the corner of the goal, marking the game’s first score and a Kenyon 1-0 lead.
The goal was Lee’s fifth of the season and his first in his last six matches, dating back to the Lords’ win against Hiram on Oct. 26.
Not more than two minutes after Lee’s goal, a second Kenyon freshman wanted in on the action. Tony Amolo, this year’s North Coast Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year, had been quiet as of late, registering just four shot attempts in his previous four matches. Prior to that, he scored four times in his previous two games.
Moving down the field, Amolo made the most of a chip pass by Barnes and faked out his defender to create enough room for his move to the goal. With an open shooting the lane, Amolo did what he does best and blasted Kenyon’s second goal of the contest. The goal, scored in the 77th minute, proved to be the eventual game winner.
The location of Kenyon’s next match is unknown at this time and will be determined by the outcome of matches yet to be played this weekend. Kenyon will play the winner of Sunday’s Salisbury/Messiah match on Nov. 22.