TU Men’s Soccer Staying Strong

by Carlos Melgar
Staff

It’s tied 0-0 with 20 minutes left in the game. Transylvania University playing against its foe – no.3 ranked Ohio Wesleyan University – for a spot in the Elite 8. Transylvania junior forward Brian Williams has the ball and crosses it into the penalty box. Peter Mikhail goes up for the ball and heads it toward the goal. The header bounces off a Bishop defender into the goal to give Transy a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes left to play. The Pioneers slow down the game to keep possession. The whistle is blown and the Pioneers have done it again. They have defeated the no.3 ranked team Ohio Wesleyan University for the second time in a row.

The Pioneers have secured a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. They are in the NCAA Championship field for the fifth time in six years while OWU made their 32nd appearance.

Today, the Pioneers are traveling to Pittsburg to play in Gesling Stadium at Carnegie Mellon University for a match against no. 11 Swarthmore College on Friday.

When asked how the game went against OWU, Head Coach Brandon Bowman said, “During the first half, we were not used to the speed. They kept applying pressure to our defense but our defense stayed strong. By the second half, we were used to the speed of the game and started connecting our passes and created better pieces.”

Playing in the NCAA tournament is tough, as the Pioneers have already experienced. They have already played two top-25 teams in the nation, no. 23 Capital University and no. 3 OSU, and will now face no. 11 Swarthmore. If they beat Swarthmore, they will secure a spot in the Elite 8 against the winner of the no. 9 Carnegie Mellon-Calvin College match.

The game will be played on turf, which the Pioneers are not used to. So, in order to prepare themselves, the Pioneers have been training on turf.

Coach Bowman said reassuringly, “They may have a very slim advantage over us since they are used to playing on turf, but that won’t affect our game.”

This week, Coach Bowman has been working on key tactics and practicing defensive strategies that they used against OWU.

“We are looking at our defensive mistakes that (we) made against OWU and (are) going to practice them so we do not make the same ones against Swarthmore,” he said.

“You got to play close to your best game every match; from the beginning of the tournament to the end.” Coach Bowman said. Senior goalkeeper Trey Kramer commented, “From the very beginning we haven’t gotten any respect; not only can this team play but we can win.”

When ask if any injuries will be affecting the team’s chances against Swarthmore, Coach Bowman said comfortably, “Everyone is healthy which is good. Some might have a few bruises and slight pulls but that will not hold us back.”

The Pioneers have to play their game and cannot afford to make mistakes. Even though they have beaten tough teams in the past, they have to take it one game at a time. If the Pioneers defeat Swarthmore, they will be playing in the Elite 8.

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