Maroon Men’s Soccer Concludes Season with Penalty Kick Loss to North Park in NCAA Final Four

Andre Abedian
Andre Abedian

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The University of Chicago men's soccer team's historic, record-breaking season came to a close in the NCAA Division III Championship semifinals on Friday night. After battling through 110 scoreless minutes, UChicago and North Park University officially ended in a tie. The ensuing penalty kick shootout went in favor of the Vikings by 7-6 margin.

The No. 11-ranked Maroons (19-2-2 record) set new school marks for wins, goals (59) and assists (54) this year. The No. 4-ranked Vikings (20-1-2) will play No. 9-ranked Messiah College (23-2) in Saturday's NCAA Championship match.

The great majority of the match belonged to UChicago. Sporting their maroon-and-grey striped road uniforms, the Maroons outshot the Vikings 8-0 over 45 minutes of play. Four of the shots were on goal, with two headers provided by junior forward Max Lopez. Sophomore forward Dayo Adeosun's chance was saved in the 26th minute and another of his opportunities in the box spun wide left.

"I thought our guys did everything we needed to do to get the win," Head Coach Mike Babst said. "We were right on the doorstep of getting the goal to put us through, it's just we love a pretty cruel game sometimes. It's hard to end that way when you feel like you deserve a little bit more." 

Despite UChicago's advantage in chances, the game went to halftime knotted at 0-0.

North Park earned its first shot just over a minute into the second half with a header that went wide. After that, the Maroons continued to push forward with both possession and counters. In the 60th minute, Lopez got behind the defense to the end line, but his turn-around shot was blocked by the diving goalkeeper. UChicago earned four corner kicks in a two-and-a-half minute span from 58:01 to 60:31.

Junior forward Matthew Koh came up fast with a right-side counter, and NPU again made the save in the 66th minute. Then in the 76th minute, it was Hill Bonin's opportunity to come up with a big stop, as the UChicago senior goalkeeper made a diving rejection at the left post.

The Maroons finished regulation with a huge 18-2 lead in shots; however, the game went to overtime still tied at zero.

The Vikings had the better run of play in the first overtime with a header over the crossbar in the 94th minute and forced another Bonin save in the 95th. In the second overtime, Adeosun took two shots. Ultimately, the game would go down officially as a 0-0 tie after 110 minutes. Penalty kicks would be needed to decide who would advance to the NCAA title match.

In the penalty kick shootout, North Park came out ahead 7-6.

UChicago dominated the final offensive categories by a 20-5 margin in shots, 11-2 in shots on goal and 12-3 in corner kicks. Senior goalkeeper Hill Bonin (14-2-2 record) made two saves in 110 minutes of action. 

Koh and Andre Abedian were both selected to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team. 

Babst reflected on his four seniors -- Bonin, Abedian, Stacey Reimann, and Gary Huang -- in the post-game presser following the result. 

"We had a group of seniors who were guys who couldn't have given anymore," he said. "The way they led this team was remarkable and this roster fought so hard for them because they wanted two more wins for them. 

"But they'e such a huge part of this program and what it means to be a senior on this team and what we will eventually accomplish as a program -- they're going to be a huge part of. So in that way, I couldn't be more proud of this group, and especially these four seniors."