SSU outlasts MVNU in 3-2 thriller

In sports, it’s simply good etiquette — and a cardinal rule, really — to continue to battle to the final whistle.

The men’s soccer program at Shawnee State University did just that on Saturday evening, and as a result, came away with a thrilling nonconference victory at Mount Vernon Nazarene as Kevin de Lange’s goal with a minute and 45 seconds left to play sent the SSU sideline into absolute bedlam in a 3-2 win over the Cougars in Mount Vernon.

Shawnee State, who moved back on the right side of .500 (4-3 overall) for the second time with the win, outshot Mount Vernon Nazarene (4-2) by a 16-14 margin and also placed more shots on goal than the Cougars by putting eight shots on frame to Mount Vernon Nazarene’s four. The Bears also committed just 10 fouls to the Cougars’ 14 in the contest en route to supplying pressure on all fronts over the majority of the contest.

Over the first six minutes of the contest, Shawnee State wasted no time supplying the necessary pressure in order to put MVNU on the defensive early by converting each of its first two shots into goals during the contest itself. In the second minute, the speed and scoring efficiency of Thomas de Graauw showed up quite early as the freshman supplied a shot in the second minute that found back netting, which was followed less than three minutes later by a strike by Mark de Graaf on another excellent feed from de Lange. The strikes ultimately gave SSU a commanding 2-0 lead less than six full minutes in and, as a result, had the Bears sitting pretty in the contest.

However, Mount Vernon Nazarene, unfazed, worked its way back into the affair with strong offensive precision on its own accord.

After play stalled for eight minutes behind strong defensive play from both units, the Cougars rallied by posting five shots over an 11-minute span en route to putting SSU on the defensive. In the 15th minute, a foul inside the penalty box allowed Tim Kasparek to convert a goal that halved SSU’s lead to 2-1. Kasparek’s efforts were followed by a 24th minute conversion by Joshua Orecchio behind a feed from Matt Roldan, which tied the score at two apiece, resulting in a brand-new soccer match.

Over the remaining 20 minutes of the first half, both teams kept pushing offensively as the Bears and Cougars put 10 shots together between them, with de Lange and Michael Rose placing shots on goal but failing to score and Mount Vernon Nazarene’s Keon Boney doing the same after the Cougar missed with a shot that glanced off of the crossbar in the 28th minute — which allowed both units to remain in a 2-2 deadlock.

At the beginning of the second half, it was MVNU who supplied the majority of the offensive pressure around the goal, as Boney attempted a pair of shots while Orecchio and Brandon Mount combined for a shot apiece over the half’s first 26 minutes of action. However, Corbin Betz — who made his first start of the season for SSU in goal, stopped a pair of shots in the 48th and 66th frames, while Boney and Orecchio missed shots wide in the 47th and 71st frames as the Bears kept OCU out of the goal defensively.

From the 71st minute forward, Shawnee State made sure that they wouldn’t be denied a victory by completely dominating the stat sheet, and play, from that point on. Over the following 18 minutes, the Bears posted nine shots while not allowing Ohio Christian to get a single shot off, and even posted four shots over a span of a minute-and-a-half as de Lange, de Graauw, Eli Maurer, and Jacob Perry posted shots that were either saved, blocked, or were wide of the desired target.

However, after missing with four additional shots — including two shots that were either wide or high of the goal by de Lange and a shot each by Perry and Bruno Rovares that was saved — de Lange, at last, struck with the game-winner. The sophomore, who led Shawnee State with six goals and three assists prior to Saturday’s victory, fittingly put an appropriate capper on the thrilling bout by scoring off of a pass from Joao Toledo to put the Bears over the top in the win.

“I am very proud of the way that we played tonight,” Shawnee State head coach Ron Goodson said. “We played hard for 90 minutes. We got great play from our bench, had great fan support, and it was a great win against a good team. We got off to a very fast start, and finished the game very strong.”

In addition to de Lange, who posted a goal, an assist, and put two of his six shots on goal, de Graauw’s three shots, including his second minute goal that got the ball rolling for SSU, led the Bears. Toledo’s assist, de Graaf’s lone goal, and one shot on goal apiece from Maurer, Perry, Rose, and Rovares were vital in the Shawnee State offensive attack.

With the victory, Goodson’s group has won four out of its last five matches. The Bears will look to improve their record to 5-3 overall and take their second consecutive victory in their four-game, eight-day stretch when SSU plays host to Lourdes on Monday evening at Shawnee Turf in Portsmouth. Game time is set for 5 p.m.