GREENSBORO, N.C. – The University of Chicago men's soccer team fell just short in its quest for the program's first national title, as a red-hot Calvin College squad defeated the Maroons 4-1 in Friday's NCAA Division III national semifinal.
The Knights (22-1) avenged their only loss of the year – a 1-0 win for UChicago (18-3-1) back on Sept. 22 – by a controlling possession that led to several early shot attempts. The Maroons and keeper Aaron Katsimpalis were able to ward off a few Calvin chances in the first 25 minutes of play before the No. 4 Knights broke through with their first score of the game and kickstarted a flurry of offense.
Bobby McCaw chipped one in the left side of the box after his teammate Ian Adams headed over a free kick to give Calvin a 1-0 advantage in the 28th minute. Calvin would add another score just two minutes later, as Adams got past his defender and knocked one off the post and in to make it 2-0.
The Knights would hold a two-goal lead for approximately 32 seconds.
UChicago's senior All-American forward Matthew Koh answered the call in the 30th minute, as the speedy front man gained the edge and beat two Calvin defenders along the end line before chipping one at the keeper, which junior teammate Dayo Adeosun deftly finished in the box to make it 2-1.
Despite the Maroons' efforts to keep it a one-goal game at the break, Calvin was able to add one more score courtesy of Hunter Olson in the 44th minute.
The Maroons had several chances in the second half – and actually outshot the Knights, 6-4 – but were not able to break through the Calvin defense, as the Knights were able to counter attack for their fourth score of the game in the 66th minute to create the final result.
The Knights outshot the Maroons by a 15-7 shot total, including 11-1 in the first half. On goal, the total stood 8-4 in favor of Calvin. The Knights recorded five corner kicks to the Maroons' one.
Katsimpalis recorded three saves for UChicago in the loss.
The UChicago senior class of Max Lopez, Matthew Koh, Nicco Capotosto, Zachary Pierce and Josh Scofield finish their careers as the all-time winningest in program history, with an overall record of 66-11-8 (.824).
In their era, the Maroons captured three-straight University Athletic Association titles. Lopez, a three-time All-American, finished his career as the all-time leader in both goals (54) and points (133), while Koh leaves as the program leader in assists with 34.
"I've never had a more humble group of talented players and I think everyone followed their lead," Head Coach Mike Babst said following the loss.
"At points this year, we really just tried to step back and enjoy the people and the competitors that we were fortunate enough to be around… It's such a pleasure to be able to coach a group like that.
"There can be absolutely no disappointment or shame in the ways that these guys have played and competed. We fell a little short of where we wanted to be, but both me and Spencer [Lewis], we just felt so fortunate to have these guys in our school and our program.
"They've left it in a better place, and their legacy is going to be felt for a really long time."