Statesmen Record Program’s First Win at Nationals

 

Fort Wayne, Ind.–The William Penn men’s soccer team recorded a program first on Thursday, winning the first game of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round over the #16 Milligan Buffaloes by a score of 3-1. The victory marked the first time in program history that the team has won a game in the national tournament.

The Statesmen, working against the wind to begin the game, did not do themselves any favors early on, giving the Buffaloes a gift with an own goal only three minutes into the game. Aaron Keita (Sr., Monrovia, Liberia, Computer Science) attempted to equalize with the Statesmen’s first shot of the game, but it was deflected before it could cause any harm.

Both offenses struggled to create any momentum, as neither team put a shot on goal until the 33rd minute when Kenedy Deviska (Sr., Pignon, Haiti, Wellness and Recreation) took a shot at goal, but had it saved by the keeper. Sagar Bhattarai (Sr., Columbus, Ohio, Information Systems) was able to get a shot away just before the halftime whistle, but it sailed wide and the Statesmen entered the break trailing 1-0.

After the own goal, the William Penn defense really locked down the Milligan attack. They allowed only two shots, neither of which were on target, but only took one on target shot themselves.

Working with the wind to finish the game, the Statesmen put much more pressure on the opposing keeper right off the bat. Gianmarco Centrella (Jr., Rome, Italy, Sports Management) fired two shots at goal, but both of them were saved.

Just a few minutes later, the Buffaloes committed a foul in the penalty box, giving the Statesmen a golden opportunity to tie the game. Bhattarai stepped up to the 12 yard mark, and cashed in on his opportunity, firing the ball into the left corner to tie the score 1-1. The foul was also significant as it earned a red card on the Milligan player and the Buffaloes played a man down the remainder of the contest.

With momentum firmly in their grasps, the Statesmen immediately took advantage, taking only three minutes before striking again. Lukas Koch (Jr., Moers, Germany, Sports Management) threw a long ball into the box, where it was headed from the near post to the far post by Keita. Luke Andrews (Sr., Andover, England, Sports Management) was on the receiving end of the header and sent it to the back of the net, giving the Statesmen their first advantage of the afternoon with only 25 minutes left to play.

William Penn continued to pile on against the Buffaloes. The third and final goal came in the form of Vincenzo Centrella (Jr., Rome, Italy) who took a high volley and fired it into the upper left corner, a beautiful strike from 20 yards out that all but put the game away as the defense continued to play flawlessly, keeping the Milligan offense from even taking a shot for the remainder of the game.

The Statesmen did all of their damage within a 10-minute span from 60th to the 70th minute. Harry Nash (Jr., Basingstoke, England, Sports Management) earned the start in goal and posted one save, as the defense played tremendously once again and only allowed four total shots.

“The guys played really well tonight,” said Head Coach Simon Brown. “Even being down 1-0 at halftime, I felt we had the better chances. There was a strong wind at our backs in the second half and we controlled most of the game against a quality Milligan side that has been in the top 20 all season.”

“Three goals from set pieces were the difference, and I’m glad to give this program their first win in a national tournament game.”

What’s Next: The Statesmen will remain in Fort Wayne, taking a day to rest before taking on the #9 Indiana Tech Warriors for the right to advance to the Final Site. That contest is scheduled for Saturday at 12 PM.

Posted by on Nov 19 2021. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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