Westerville, Ohio – The Transylvania men's soccer team sets out to write more history this weekend as it faces the Kenyon College Lords in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Otterbein University's Memorial Stadium.
Having completed a 17-1 run through the regular season and Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, the Transylvania men's soccer team embarks upon its first NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons on Saturday.
Transylvania advanced to its first NCAA Tournament in five years by securing the HCAC automatic qualifier in defeating Rose-Hulman in last Saturday's conference championship match, a 2-1 double overtime thriller.
The Pioneers enter the tournament riding high as they boast one of the best defenses in the nation while producing the conference's offensive and defensive players of the year, senior Riley Calhoon and junior Tyler Joy-Brandon.
Transylvania is led by fourth-year head coach Matt Vogel, who received his first HCAC Men's Soccer Coach of the Year award earlier this week. Vogel aspires to return the Pioneers to a similar glory he experienced as a player for the Pioneers at the turn of the previous decade.
Vogel was part of a Pioneers squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007. Now at the helm for Transylvania, Vogel has engineered one of the finest seasons in Transylvania men's soccer history, one that he and the Pioneers hope to extend beyond the weekend.
Transylvania's first-round matchup pits the Pioneers versus Kenyon, an at-large bid recipient from the North Coast Athletic Conference. Kenyon completed a 15-2-3 run in their regular season, including a 9-0 showing in regular-season play. The Lords carried an 11-match winning streak into their conference championship match last Saturday before tying Ohio Wesleyan, 0-0. The Lords fell in the penalty shootout, 3-2, necessitating an at-large bid to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The winner of Saturday's 7:30 p.m. first-round match will advance to play Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in the second round versus the winner of the tournament site's other matchup, Otterbein and Medaille.
This marks the first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting between Transylvania and Kenyon.
Transylvania is led by Calhoon, the HCAC's goals leader with 15 on the year. Also providing offensive support are sophomore midfielder Charlie Wend and sophomore forward Alex Shkraba. Wend finished regular-season play ranked fourth in the HCAC in goals with eight, including back-to-back braces midway through the HCAC schedule. Shkraba delivered the first score in Saturday's HCAC Championship match for the Pioneers and has six goals this season, ranking seventh in the HCAC.
The Pioneers also boast a formidable defense, led by Joy-Brandon, senior Jacob Hill, and sophomore goalkeepers Drew Grisham and Chandler Gaunce. Joy-Brandon and Hill were selected to the All-HCAC First Team for their reputed backline defense, while Grisham was named to the All-HCAC second team for his consistent play in goal. Gaunce, who was credited with the HCAC championship win, finished atop the HCAC in goals-against average, yielding just 0.26 goals per match.
While the Pioneers have proved to be a complete team through 18 matches in 2017, the defense is a particular point of pride for the Transylvania contingent; Transylvania is ranked fifth in the nation in goals-against average, allowing 0.37 goals per match. The Pioneers have also been aggressive on the attack this season, ranking 18th nationally in shots per game with 18 per contest.
The Lords also rank top-10 nationally in goals-against average, giving up 0.47 goals per game. Kenyon averages two more shots per game than the Pioneers at 21 shots per contest, placing the Lords top-eight in the country for that category.
Kenyon is led offensively by midfielder Henry Myers, who carries 13 goals on the year into Saturday's contest. Freshman Ian McInturf stands in goal for the Lords, and ranks 11th in the country in goals-against average with 0.49 goals allowed per contest.
Admissions for fans attending are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors aged 62 and above, and $5 for students. Admission is free for children five years and under.
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