The Benedictine Men’s Soccer team defeated Carthage College on Saturday 2-1 and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 2-1 on Sunday in their two playoff matchups over the weekend in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The two victories advance the Eagles to the next round of the playoffs, the farthest the program has advanced in program history, where the Eagles are one of 16 teams left to play.
“For us to find a way to get a good result for the second day we were outshot and we are finding ourselves on the right end of the score line,” Head Coach Attila Schmidt said, “You gotta be excited about your effort as a team.”
The Eagles battled Carthage College, who were ranked 7th nationally headed into the game, in the opening round of the playoffs. Just three minutes into the game, a Benedictine penalty set up a Carthage penalty kick. Carthage took advantage as they scored the first goal of the game to take the lead 1-0. The Eagles quickly responded when Sophomore Forward Erik Stammer scored just ten minutes later tying the game at one a piece. Defense was key for the Eagles as they trailed in shots 11-4 heading into the break, but held the score at 1-1 at the half.
In the second half, the Eagles offense came out fast, setting up multiple opportunities that failed to reach the back of the net. The defense held strong as Junior Goalkeeper Antonio Marti-Polo made five saves in the half forcing the game to go into extra time. Carthage dominated the first overtime session as they held a 3-0 advantage in the session, but none passed Marti-Polo in the goal. A foul in the box during the second overtime period set up Junior Defender Drew Schmucker with the game-winning penalty kick. The win marked the first playoff victory in program history as they advanced to play University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Sunday.
In the second game of the weekend, the Eagles went up against University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the 12th ranked team nationally. Benedictine made a statement early with a goal by Senior Midfielder Pedro Parra in the first five minutes of play to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. The Eagles held most of the momentum in the first half as seemingly every offensive possession in the half ended with a solid shot. A hand ball in the 25th minute set up an Eagles penalty kick. Junior Midfielder and NACC Player of the Year Nick Kapetanos buried the penalty kick to give the Eagles the two goal advantage. After a flurry of offensive attempts, Whitewater finally found the back of the net and the half ended with Benedictine still holding the 2-1 advantage.
Scoring opportunities were much harder to come by for both teams in the second half. After a couple early shots by both teams, the defenses tightened up and making good shots difficult to come by. A strong offensive attack by Whitewater in the closing minutes forced the Eagles defense to pick up the intensity, but they held strong to preserve the victory.
“It felt great to represent the school in the NCAA tournament,” Sophomore Forward Erik Stammer said, “Even though we defended for much of the games we were able to find ways to win in both of them. I think this really shows our resilience as a team, we are always finding ways to win.”
The two victories place the Eagles into the field of 16 and a Sweet Sixteen matchup where the Eagles will play #8 St. Thomas Saturday at University of Chicago. The time of the match is still to be determined.