The seventh-ranked Trinity men’s soccer team lost 2-1 to Loras College (Iowa) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament two weekends ago. It was the Tigers’ eighth time advancing to the quarterfinals under Paul McGinlay. The matches were played in Debuque, Iowa, where temperatures were twenty below freezing. Over 1,000 viewers were watching the live streams for both the weekend games.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, the Tigers defeated Wartburg 2-1 in overtime to earn a spot in the quarterfinals. Wartburg scored in the first seven minutes of the game for a halftime lead over the Tigers, but senior midfielder Darren McAfee scored on a penalty kick on a Wartburg foul in the 58th minute of the game.
“We started playing really well from the beginning, controlling the ball, maintaining good possession. Although we went down first, the team never lost its composure and we kept battling and kept trying to get a goal because we knew it was going to come soon,” said senior forward Yuri Ribeiro.
The game remained tied up until the sixth minute of the second overtime period, when Ribeiro scored the game winner on a header assisted by senior defender Jeff Hayes and sophomore defender Tom Carwile. Junior goalkeeper Matt Cardone had three saves in the game.
“We dealt with the conditions very well. The majority of the team isn’t used to playing in low temperatures; we showed good mental strength throughout the games. Even though they scored in the first half, we managed to fight back. We were over the moon with our victory. It was emotionally and physically draining for everyone, but we rested as best we could for the next game,” said first-year forward Callum Squires.
On Sunday, Nov. 24 the Tigers were knocked out of the tournament by Loras. The Tigers took an early lead in the game as Carwile scored in the first nine minutes of the game, his eighth goal of the season. The Tigers maintained a 1-0 lead until Loras’ Alex Bradley evened the score in the 51st minute of the game. Loras’ Mike Pizzello scored seven minutes later to take the lead over Trinity. Carwile received a red card in the 68th minute of play, a contentious call, forcing the Tigers to play a man down for the rest of the game.
The Tigers continued to play aggressively; Ribeiro and junior midfielder Victor Araujo both took strong shots on goal, but they were saved by Loras goalkeeper Dylan Milkent. Milkent recorded four saves in the game while Cardone recorded five.
“The team came out in the first half hour against Loras and played lights-out. We were all over them, scored a goal 10 minutes in. We really needed to get a second goal while we were riding that momentum because we definitely had the upper hand, but we just couldn’t get a second goal,” said assistant coach Edward Cartee.
The Tigers’ overall record was 21-3-1 and 13-1 in conference games. The Tigers’ top goal scorers were junior forward Johnny Lawson, Araujo and Ribeiro with 15, 11 and 10, respectively. The Tigers had 17 shutout games this season, and Cardone had 55 saves and a .846 save percentage. Ribeiro also led the team in assists with 18 for the season. Senior midfielder Jeff Hayes was also honored as a member of the All-SCAC Sportsmanship team. Senior defender Ben Anderson was also named a member of the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team.
While the Tigers’ season has come to an end for the semester, they will play a game in the spring, the details of which will be announced next semester. Last year, the Tigers traveled to Dallas and defeated SMU 2-1.
“We’re retiring nine seniors, all of whom are very special kids and very talented players that contributed a lot to our season this year. However, we’re also returning all of our goalkeepers and the majority of our starting defense, so I think we’ll have a really strong defensive unit next year. We’ve got a lot of exciting, young, talented players in the program ready to step up and contribute to the attack. It’s hard to see this year’s team break up, but I’m very optimistic that we’ll have a great team again next year,” Cartee said.
Next year, the Tigers will return 14 seniors, 12 juniors, 19 sophomores and a new class of first years. The Tigers will be looking to make their 13th consecutive NCAA tournament.