Calvin Men's Soccer Headed Back to San Antonio
REDLANDS, CA - For the second time in three years, Calvin's men's soccer squad has advanced to the Final Four. At one point less than five minutes from seeing their season end, the Knights earned a trip to San Antonio with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over the University of Texas at Tyler on Saturday.
Calvin finished the game with a 20-15 advantage in shots, but it was Tyler with a majority of possession early on. Calvin, however, got on the board first off an acrobatic bicycle kick from freshman Travis Vegter. Vegter biked a bouncing ball in the box over the head of Tyler keeper Sergio Gardea.
The lead wouldn't hold for long, however. Five minutes later, in the late stages of the first half, Tyler equalized the game at 1-1.
Texas-Tyler came out of the halftime break strong. The Patriots dictated the pace of play early in the second half. Their possession resulted in a goal off the foot of Chris Powell, who beat the keeper and directed a shot in the net's left corner.
Trailing 2-1, the Knight's Final Four dreams grew dimmer with each tick of the clock. Those dreams took a serious hit when junior Nick Holtrop was sent off with a red card in the 83rd minute. Calvin would have to finish the game down a man.
But Calvin found a spark in adversity, and threw numbers forward to tie the game.
"When we went a man down, our team just started to take off," said Calvin coach Chris Hughes.
In the 86th minute, fifth year senior Brad Heethuis, no stranger to critical NCAA tournament goals, touched a ball past Gardea, to square the game in gripping fashion. Twenty minutes earlier, Hughes decided to put Heethuis in as a striker for just that reason.
"I put him with his experience tonight, hoping that he could find a way to put the ball in the back of the net," said Hughes.
Heethuis did just that. His late-game goal sent the match into overtime, in which the Knights started to swing the possession battle their way.
"We really played well in those overtimes. We were going at them hard," said Hughes.
The two sides remained scoreless in the first overtime period, though Calvin generated several dangerous opportunities. Then, minutes into the second overtime, the Knights found their chance.
Calvin drew a corner kick less than two minutes into the second overtime. Chris Nance played a ball into the box, which bounced around the area for seconds until junior Trevor Bushhouse turned on the ball and volleyed it into the back of the net. The goal sealed the game for Calvin, and booked their ticket to San Antonio for the Final Four.
"Bushhouse turned around and hit it with such velocity that there was nothing stopping that ball," said Hughes of the goal, which completed a comeback that at one point seemed all too improbable.
"We thought the season was close to being done," said Hughes, who has led the Knights to at least the Elite Eight in three consecutive years.
The Knights will play in the National Semi-Final on Friday, December 2.