CUA hangs tough with strong Bishops squad before falling 2-1

YORK, Pa. – The CUA men's soccer team hung with the nation's second ranked team all afternoon long on Saturday, but in the end Ohio Wesleyan outlasted the Cardinals 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  With the loss the Cardinals terrific season comes to a close at 11-6-4.

CUA outshot the Bishops 11-10 on the afternoon and was awarded seven corner kicks, to just two for Ohio Wesleyan.  In goal for the Cardinals Quinn Daly stopped one shot, while Bishops goalkeeper Paul Hendricks sent back two shots.

The Cardinals controlled the action early in the match as they took the first three shots on the day, beginning with Mike DiMarco's attempt at the 1:29 mark, which was blocked.

"I thought we did well today; we were prepared, we just couldn't capitalize on some early opportunities that we had, and in a game of this magnitude, you need to make the most of your chances," CUA head coach Travis Beauchamp said after the match.

He went onto say, "Our guys are disappointed.  There are no moral victories with this one.  After being here last season (in the NCAA Tournament), that opportunity definitely served us well.  I think we took it to them (Ohio Wesleyan) at times during the match and we tried to limit their opportunities as best we could; like I said, it's just tough when you don't take advantage of those early opportunities."

CUA held Ohio Wesleyan without a shot until Tyler Byrant got one off at the 16:10 mark, but the Cardinals defense blocked his attempt.  Both defenses stood tall for the next 15 minutes, until Ohio Wesleyan struck for the first score at the 33:22 mark.  Tyler Wall netted the goal off an assist from Eric Laippie, as Wall beat a diving Daly with a low shot.

With under five to play in the opening half CUA had a terrific scoring chance by DiMarco from just outside the 18, but Hendricks made the save to preserve the Bishops 1-0 lead.

That save proved to be huge for Ohio Wesleyan as the Bishops scored with 30 seconds remaining in the half when Travis Wall beat Daly with a shot from the top of the box into the lower left of the net.  That sent the teams into halftime with the Cardinals trailing 2-0.

Ian Smith took the first shot of the second half at the 51:18 mark, but it sailed wide as the Cardinals looked to cut into Ohio Wesleyan's lead.

The teams continued to battle back-and-forth as the match wore on, with neither side willing to give in. 

With 15 minutes remaining CUA stepped its offensive attack up a notch, as the Cardinals received a shot from Nick Sylvester, that was blocked, and another from Mike Brennan that Hendricks was forced to make an incredible save on.  Brennan's shot came from deep and nearly cut the Cardinals deficit in half.

At the 88:41 mark CUA did in fact cut the lead in half as captain Kevin Duffy took a shot from just inside the 18 that found its way into the top left corner to make it 2-1.  Sylvester assisted on Duffy's sixth goal of the season.

With no time remaining Matt Hofricther was awarded a penalty corner for CUA, but the Cardinals eventually ran out of time and saw their 12-match unbeaten streak and wonderful season come to an end.  "We were pushing it there at the end," Beauchamp said. "Their keeper made a nice save, but we just dug ourselves too big a hole to come out of with that small amount of time remaining."

Beauchamp spoke of CUA's early season schedule, which saw the Cardinals take on nationally ranked foes Salisbury and Johns Hopkins.  "I think in the grand scheme of things, it definitely helps to take on that caliber of teams.  The level of intensity is something that we've seen, so when you get into the postseason you know how to react to it."

He continued, "For us to play with a team like Ohio Wesleyan, which is so highly ranked by a number of folks, says a lot about our guys."

2010 marked the second consecutive season in which CUA earned an NCAA Tournament berth.  The Cardinals downed Merchant Marine Academy in penalty kicks in the Landmark Conference championship match on November 6 to earn the automatic bid.

Beauchamp offered his thoughts on this year's edition of the Cardinals, and in particular the senior class.  "These guys achieved a lot, not just this year, but throughout the last couple of years.  For our seniors especially; those guys were 6-10 when they were freshmen and they cap their careers off with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.  This is a special group and they've had a huge part in the building of this program."