Sophomore midfielder Jon Stegner (Powell/Olentangy Liberty), senior forward Travis Wall (Columbus/Upper Arlington), and senior forward Tyler Bryant (Chillicothe/Unioto) scored goals as Ohio Wesleyan built a 3-0 halftime lead, and the Bishops went on to defeat Montclair (N.J.) State in a national semifinal game of the NCAA Division III tournament on Friday in San Antonio, Texas.
Ohio Wesleyan will play the winner of Friday’s semifinal between Calvin (Mich.) and Oneonta (N.Y.) State in the national championship game at 5:30 p.m. (CST) on Saturday at Blossom Soccer Stadium in San Antonio.
The win also was the 607th career victory for Ohio Wesleyan head coach Jay Martin, tying the all-time victories record in men’s college soccer set by Joe Bean, who compiled 607 wins at Quinnipiac, Bridgeport, and Wheaton (Ill.) from 1962-2006. A victory in the national championship game would make Martin the all-time wins leader in college men’s soccer.
Ohio Wesleyan threatened early, with freshman midfielder Colton Bloecher (Lewis Center/Olentangy Orange) sending a header off a corner kick just over the crossbar in the second minute, and the Bishops assembling a 4-on-2 run in the third minute that Montclair keeper Anthony Rogic broke up with a good play in the box.
Rogic made another good play in the 13th minute, stopping a shot from the left side by Wall. The rebound continued across the box to Stegner, whose follow shot from the right side was high.
Stegner had more success on his next chance, though. Sophomore midfielder Matt Shadoan (Dublin/Scioto) fired a shot that Rogic stopped. Senior forward Matt Bonfini (Dublin/Coffman) kept the play alive, and Stegner came in from the right side to jump on the loose ball and put it into the back of the Red Hawks’ net.
“It wasn’t a hard goal to score,” Stegner said. “A few minutes earlier, Travis had a shot that came out to me, and I missed it over (the crossbar). I was pretty fortunate to have a couple of shots rattle around and come out to me. It got our team over the hill of getting that first goal.”
“Getting the first goal is our goal in every game,” Wall said. “It means the other team can’t sit back and defend.”
Rogic kept Montclair State in the game, making a fine save after a give-and-go by Wall and Bloecher.
The Bishops took a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute when Wall picked off a Red Hawk clearing attempt, and shortly thereafter increased the lead to 3-0 when sophomore midfielder Paolo Bucci (Dublin/Bishop Watterson) sent the ball to Bryant, who sent a 20-yard rocket into the right side of the net.
Early in the second half, Bonfini made it 4-0 by picking off a loose ball in the Red Hawk end and putting into the back of the unprotected goal.
“We knew if we could play our style, and make them defend and make them chase, that we’d have a good day,” Martin said. “I certainly didn’t expect 4-0 in a national semifinal against a very good team.”
Ohio Wesleyan outshot Montclair State, 17-7. Junior Paul Hendricks (Columbus/Worthington Kilbourne) and sophomore Zach Khalifa (Glen Echo, Md./Walt Whitman) combined for 4 saves in the Bishop goal. Rogic and Kevin Lynch combined for 5 saves for Montclair State.