Tiffin, OH – Competing against a defending national champion is no simple task. For the Heidelberg University men’s soccer team, taking on Ohio Wesleyan University, who claimed the NCAA Division III National Championship a season ago, would be a formidable task. The Student Princes played tough for 90 minutes, but fell to OWU, 3-2.
“We played a good game, but it just wasn’t the result we wanted today,” said head coach Brian Haley.
“All the credit goes to the Heidelberg players for making the defending national champions come to our field and play as hard as they did for the whole 90 minutes,” Haley added.
Senior forward Ryan Smith (Roanoke, TX/Keller) collected his fourth goal of the 2012 season, as he placed a lob over the OWU goalkeeper in the 24th minute.
“Ryan (Smith) has been great as a leader, both on and off the field, driving this squad forward,” said Haley.
In the 50th minute, freshman Ryan Homoki (Grafton/Midview) was harshly tackled in the box, giving Heidelberg a penalty kick. Senior Cole Tonti (Columbus/St. Francis de Sales) netted the penalty kick opportunity for his first goal of the season.
“Ryan (Homoki) made a good move, but we got the penalty kick and Cole stepped up cool and calm to knock it home,” said Haley.
Tonti played as a defensive captain this afternoon in the absence of defender Erik Furst.
“Cole stepped up by showing great leadership today in an outstanding performance. His calm-but-driven personality gets the team ready to play hard every week and he played well in a great role today,” Haley added.
Offensively, the Heidelberg underclassmen were a force, as they accounted for eight of the Berg’s twelve shots. Freshman Christopher Koczak (Springboro), coming off of his stellar two-goal performance at Denison, took three shots against OWU. Sophomores Hamid Shariff (Columbus/Centennial) and Nico Samaniego (Hudson) recorded one shot each, while Tyler Eoff (Oak Harbor) tallied two.
Sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Stevens (South Lyon, MI) added another five saves to his season total, which now stands at 26.
The Bishops took a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick in the 12th minute.
Following the goal by Smith that leveled the game at 1-1, OWU found the back of the net for the second time in the 24th minute.
With the game tied 2-2 in the 58th minute, the Bishops scored their third goal of the contest sending them to a 3-2 victory over the Student Princes.
“Today was a step in the right direction, even though the result might not have been what we wanted. But, we are beginning to come together and play with confidence,” said Haley.
The Heidelberg men will return to action on Wednesday, September 19, when they travel to Defiance. That game will follow the women’s match against Defiance. Kickoff for the men’s game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.