Wabash Loses 8-0 to Kenyon in NCAC Semifinals, Ends Season
The soccer season came to a sudden end on Wednesday afternoon as the Little Giants crashed out of the play-offs in a deflating 8-0 defeat at Kenyon College (15-1-1). While the Lords will now go on to play Denison (11-4-2) in the NCAC Tournament Final, Wabash (11-6-2) will look to re-group and come back stronger in the next campaign.
The Little Giants left it to the final weekend of the regular season to book their place in the play-offs. A 1-1 tie against Oberlin last Saturday was enough to secure a 4th place finish in the NCAC standings as well as a play-off semi-final spot.
Alexis Delgado ’23 scored the opening goal in the 20th minute to put Wabash ahead, but the Yeomen hit back and equalized in the second half. Two periods of overtime were not enough to separate the two sides; however, the result was immaterial.
Earlier in the day, Kenyon had beaten DePauw and prevented the Tigers catching up to Wabash in the standings, thus guaranteeing the Little Giants’ place in the post-season matches.
Yet in a cruel twist of fate, the very team that had helped Wabash into the play-offs now became their opponents. Kenyon came into the play-off semi-final on Wednesday afternoon 14th-ranked and top of the NCAC standings.
When the two sides met earlier in the season, Wabash were unlucky not to get anything out of the game. In that match, Coledon Johnson ’23 put the Little Giants ahead in the first half but failed to capitalize on their position, eventually losing 2-1 in overtime. Wabash, then, hoped for an equally tight contest for the play-off game.
However, the game was far from a close-fought affair, and it did not take long for Kenyon to make their mark. Five minutes after the kick-off, Nardiello-Smith set up Scott Upton to open the scoring. The Lords doubled the score on 28 minutes and added a third less than two minutes later through Burns and Hrafnkelsson respectively. At the break, Kenyon were well in control of the game and led 3-0.
The onslaught really started in the second period. By the 71st minute, the Lords had racked up an additional five goals, including two from Sam Carson and another from Hrafnkelsson. In all, Kenyon put in 33 shots, 18 of which were on target. By comparison, Wabash managed just three shots and only one on goal.
The final score of 8-0, then, was probably a fair reflection on one of Wabash’s most challenging games this entire season.
“I can see first-hand how far this team has come since my freshman year, but this is a humiliating reminder that we still have a long way to go,” said Johnson, this season’s top goal scorer. “Although we suffered a tough loss today, I can confidently say that the Wabash soccer program is stronger than it has ever been. We might not win an NCAC championship next year or the year after, but it’s important for us to pave the path for those in the future by maintaining our values as a team. Eventually our time will come. Altogether, this loss does not define us, but we will remember this loss, use it as fuel in the off-season, and come out next season fighting, because that’s what Wabash does.”
With their season now over, the Little Giants will hang up their boots for a while and reflect on what has been a mixed season.
Despite doing remarkably well to reach the NCAC Tournament, Wabash will have to improve their consistency if they wish to excel in future campaigns. Rest assured, though, when the team returns to training in the spring, Coach Keller and his team will be ready to work hard and build on the solid foundation he has dug this season.