Men Place 4th at Nationals
Strong soccer leads to good results for Freemen
The Freemen men’s soccer squad travelled to Kissimmee, Florida this past weekend to partake in their fourth straight NCCAA Division II National Tournament.
Providence entered the tournament ranked #4 which earned them an opening round match-up against the #5 Philadelphia Biblical University. This marked the fourth time the two squads would meet in the national tournament, with all three previous matches going in Philadelphia’s favor.
Providence got out to a shaky start, which allowed for an entertaining back-and-forth game to develop. While the majority of opportunities were in the Freemen’s favor early on, Philadelphia was able to find the back of the net off of an awkward shot let loose by freshman Gary Bruce. Philadelphia then got an even bigger boost as they put away a penalty shot opportunity early in the second half to go up 2-0.
However, the two-goal deficit finally prompted a response from the Freemen who began to unleash their deadly control and attack style against the Philadelphia side. Junior Andry Giesbrecht started the comeback as he put one away, and senior Yohannes Asrat finished a cross in front of the net shortly after to tie the game at two.
Freshman Norvin Campos then used a cleverly created free kick play to rifle a ball off the back of a Philadelphia defender and into the back of the net. However, Bruce once again responded for Philadelphia as he put away a through ball to tie the game at three.
Overtime would solve nothing which left the game to be decided in penalty kicks. Philadelphia would make three of their five shots, ringing one off the bar and one into the hands of keeper Kyle Perry. Meanwhile, Giesbrecht, Asrat and Campos were all able to find the net once again, while senior Kaiten Critchlow hit the clinching shot to advance the Freemen into the championship’s semi-finals with a 4-3 score.
Providence then faced the #1 ranked Clearwater Christian College Cougars in their semi-final match-up the next night.
The Freemen came in as huge underdogs in the game, but were able to give the Cougars a strong match throughout. Both sides were able to find multiple scoring chances throughout the game (highlighted by Cougars’ keeper Anthony De Rossi making a brilliant save on an equally impressive shot from Giesbrecht late in the 84th minute), but no one was able to find the back of the net, and the game moved into extra time.
At this point the Freemen’s feisty play and leave-it-all-on-the-field attitude had won over almost all in attendance with the exception of the Cougars’ home fans. However, even the boisterous atmosphere couldn’t help either side find the back of the net once again, and for the second night in a row the Freemen’s chances of advancing would be played out through the guessing game that is penalty kicks.
The Cougars’ shooters were all able to keep their shots out of Perry’s reach, while the Freemen scored their first three but failed to convert on their fourth attempt, allowing Clearwater to advance to the Championship Final.
Providence then played #2 Northland International University in the 3rd/4th place match on Saturday in the heat of mid-day Florida weather. While the Freemen came out strong in the opening minutes, creating multiple scoring opportunities for themselves, Northland was able to outlast Providence and score three second-half goals to take the game 3-0.
While the fourth place finish wasn’t quite what the Freemen were looking for to end their season, Providence was able to play inspirational soccer and win the respect of many coaches and teams from around the league. The never-quit attitude portrayed through the first two games, and the fact the Freemen gave the eventual champions, Clearwater, their tightest match of the tournament (they won their other two matches 5-1 and 2-0 respectively), was enough proof for other NCCAA members to leave the tournament with high respects for the hard-working squad from Canada.
The results also mark the third consecutive year where Providence has placed in the top four at the National Tournament; a feat unmatched by any other squad during that time.
Written By: Kaiten Critchlow
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