Statesmen Topple #20 Briar Cliff

Sioux City — William Penn men’s soccer took a great stride forward in their quest to reach the NAIA National Tournament Saturday afternoon. Blanking #20 Briar Cliff 3-0 on the road, the Statesmen improve to 11-7 overall and look to be in great form heading into the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament.

William Penn had been receiving votes in the coaches’ poll before the spring portion to the season started, but have not been included since. On the outside looking in, the navy and gold entered Saturday’s match on a two-game winning streak, as they took down fellow Great Plains Athletic Conference foe Northwestern at home and Hannibal-LaGrange midweek on the road. Briar Cliff had ended their winter season with a win against Hastings and a draw against Morningside, two teams ranked in the latest national poll. Both sides wanted the win to show they belong in the big dance later in April.

Starting once more with a fast attack from the opening whistle, it took just 2:25 for the navy and gold to earn a corner kick. With the ball emerging out of the melee, Kenedy Deviska (Jr., Pignon, Haiti, Wellness & Recreation) powered the opening shot towards goal but Leandro Faria made the save for the Chargers. Another corner kick opportunity followed but Briar Cliff cleared the line. Undeterred, the Statesmen came right back down the field and earned another corner kick. Sagar Bhattarai (Jr., Columbus, Ohio) curled in a delightful ball that found the head of Luke Andrews (Jr., Andover, England), who placed the header cleanly into the back of the net. Ahead 1-0 within the first 10 minutes, the Statesmen did not give the home side a chance to reset.

A foul on BCU let the Statesmen tee it up and the kick was weighted perfectly for Deviska, who brought in under control and delivered a goal in the 13th minute to give the Statesmen a 2-0 edge. Deviska has now scored five goals over the three games the team has played in the spring.

Another corner kick just shy of 15 minutes played did not produce much and the Chargers finally found their attacking flow. Two shots in four minutes were launched towards Rafael Martins (Jr., Boca Raton, Fla.) but he watched both miss the goal frame. The battle then moved to the midfield, as both sides piled in bodies to stop the other from having time and space to generate an attack. Aaron Keita (Jr., Liberia, Africa) had a good opportunity in the 26th minute but he bent it just wide of the near post. A corner kick for the Statesmen a few minutes later was erased by an offside flag and the team once more set up their wall in the midfield.

Neither side got a shot until there was just a couple minutes remaining in the half. William Penn once more worked through the phases to get the ball into the final third and won a corner kick. The ball landed for Jaime Arcilla (Jr., Cartagena, Colombia) but his shot was saved by Faria.

At the break, WPU head a 5-2 shot advantage and four of their five shots had been on target. They took all six corner kicks in the half and Martins did not have to make a save at the other end.

Briar Cliff found some energy in the locker room, as they pressured WPU early in the second frame. The Statesmen handled the first corner kick for the Chargers but they did not go away. Staying near the WPU net, the home side launched two shots within four seconds, with Martins putting together a great sequence to push both attempts away. Just over the hour mark and the Chargers once more strung together some passes to gain territory and chances, with one shot going high and the other snagged by Martins. The outlook for the Statesmen got a little bleaker as a red card was shown to Vincenzo Centrella (So., Rome, Italy) with 27 minutes left in the game.

Down a man, the defense was soon tested to the maximum as Briar Cliff searched for a goal. A blocked shot in the 71st minute created a rebound chance for BCU, but after an extra pass by the Chargers, Martins was able to reset and make the stop on the follow-up shot.

WPU were able to escape their own end and a few minutes later, Lukas Koch (So., Moers, Germany, Sports Management) drove in on goal but his shot was sent wide. The Chargers quickly took the ball the other way, with Keita coming up with a block and Martins making another save soon after.

Briar Cliff seemed to be on the verge of scoring but the Statesmen continued to hold. A miscue by the home side opened up their back end and Deviska was quick to pounce, forcing Faria to make a big stop. Back-to-back corner kicks could not produce a goal for the navy and gold but on the second attempt, a BCU defender lashed out in the box on the clearing attempt, with the referee awarding a penalty kick. Bhattarai calmly strode forward and delivered his second PK goal in two games to put the game out of reach at 3-0.

The final six minutes evaporated without any more shots as the Statesmen pulled off the upset. WPU ended up being outshot 10-8 but the squads were equal with six shots on goal in the contest. William Penn also had a 11-3 advantage in corner kicks. Martins was clinical and brilliant in net, making six saves in the second half to keep BCU off the board, more than earning the shutout. Deviska led the way with three shots, all on goal, along with his 12th goal of the year. No one else had more than one shot for the Statesmen.

“Briar Cliff are a top team and we showed today that we can compete with the best in the country,” said Head Coach Simon Brown. “Our boys are hungry and we know that we have to win every game to stand a chance of making the National Tournament. Hopefully, this helps our chances and we bring this confidence into the Benedictine game to start the playoffs.”

Next Up: The Heart Tournament will get underway at Drost field next Saturday, April 10. The Ravens of Benedictine will arrive for the opening round showdown that will kick-off at 5 p.m.

Posted by on Apr 5 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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