By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- In a game played with a high level of effort and intensity by both teams, it was a rebound off a crossbar that led to the game's only goal and a 1-0 win for University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) over Willamette University in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 11. The teams battled throughout the game and were still scoreless well into the second half.
With about 21 minutes left in the game, Logan Keeler from UMHB took a long shot that bounced off the crossbar. The ball rebounded into play and went to the left of the goal, where Case Carnes scored from a few yards out into the lower right corner of the net.
The Bearcats created several chances the rest of the way, but were unable to find the equalizer. Mary Hardin-Baylor improved to 16-2-1 on the season and will play host Trinity University in the second round on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. (CST). Trinity defeated University of Texas-Tyler in Saturday's first game, 4-1.
Willamette's season ended at 10-7-2. The Bearcats earned a Northwest Conference co-championship for Willamette's first ever NWC title in men's soccer. It was Willamette's first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The first save of the game was recorded 8:06 into the game and went to goalie Bryce Eichhorn of the Crusaders, who deflected a shot by Nicholas Ballenger (So., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS).
Willamette played shorthanded for about six minutes after midfielder Eric Keefe (Jr., Wellingotn, NZ/Wellington College) left with an injury near the 13:00 mark. Substitute Carter McCleary (Fr., M, Port Hadlock, WA/Chimacum HS) was able to replace Keefe just under 19 minutes into the game.
While WU was shorthanded, Quinn Nottage (Sr., GK, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) recorded a save at 18:14 on a shot from the right side by Martin Lopez. Nottage pushed the ball over the crossbar.
A controversial play at the 30-minute mark went against the Bearcats. On a break-away for Willamette, Ballenger was about to receive the ball 30 yards from the goal after a long pass when Eichhorn collided with him, and the ball went past both players. No foul was called.
Nottage made a quality save on a long free kick by UMHB from the right side near the midfield stripe with just over seven minutes left in the half. A shot by Hijiri Iijima (So., M, Kodamacho, Japan/Honjyodaiichi) of Willamette was blocked with 3:42 on the clock.
Early in the second half, a shot by Lopez on a 17-yard free kick from the left side went just over the top right corner of the goal. A bit later at 53:34, a low shot by Carnes was saved by Nottage.
At the 62:30 mark, Quinn Mello-Bastida (Jr., M, San Jose, CA/Valley Christian HS) of WU took a shot from 18 yards that Eichhorn deflected with a foot save.
The Bearcats thought they might have a penalty kick awared to them at 66:00 when Ballenger was brought down inside the box just before a Willamette player passed the ball from the right side. No foul was called.
Just a few mninutes later, Keeler's shot off the crossbar and Carnes' follow-shot gave the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
While battling to tie the score, Alan Hernandez (Sr., F, Tigard, OR/Tigard HS) had a shot blocked at 76:00.
Ballenger blasted a shot from 14 yards out with 9:10 left that Eichhorn saved in front of the 6-yard box by stretching out his arms. The quality save preserved UMHB's win.
The Bearcats created one final quality chance following a string of passes from McCleary on the right to Hernandez on the left and to Ballenger on the right. The final pass went into the middle of the box, where Eichhorn and Liam Main (Sr., F, San Francisco, CA/Marin Academy) nearly collided with 2:48 on the clock. Both players barely missed the ball.
Mary Hardin-Baylor held a 25-8 edge in total shots and a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal. Even so, the Bearcats created enough quallity shots that without Eichhorn's four saves and a couple of well-timed blocks by the Crusaders, Willamette could have won.
Nottage also played well in goal. He registered nine saves, including several top-notch plays for the Bearcats. Lopez led UMHB with four total shots and was one of three Crusaders with two shots on goal. Ballenger and Mello-Bastida each took two shots on goal for Willamette.
Great season Bearcats pic.twitter.com/VIeLnsEdJC— Willamette Bearcats (@wubearcats) November 12, 2017