Thursday afternoon, the men’s soccer team was in Seattle for the first game of the west regional tournament, with hopes of reaching the Final Four. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the Clan lost a hard fought game 1-0 at the hands of the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders.
“Obviously it’s disappointing,” said head coach Alan Koch after the match. “We played well, and created scoring chances. We dug ourselves a bit of a hole in the first half, but we created chances in the second.”
Indeed, the Clan dug themselves into a hole by conceding an early goal in the first half. In the 22nd minute, Northwest Nazarene forward Marshall Hartley took a through ball, dribbled it past SFU keeper Brandon Watson, and scored from 15 yards out to give the Crusaders an early 1-0 lead. This turned out to be the only goal they needed, as they held the Clan scoreless during the rest of the match.
In the second half, the Clan went into desperation mode. After being subbed off in the 35th minute, newly crowned Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) player of the year Jovan Blagojevic started in the second half. He immediately made his presence felt, with two chances to tie up the game, one of which was blocked, and the other sailed left of the net.
The Clan were able to draw nine fouls by the end of the game, and the shots taken near the end were in their favour, 15-8. But the good guys weren’t able to put one in the back of the net, and the game ended in a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat. Despite the improved effort in the second half, the Clan weren’t able to tie up the game.
“Their goalkeeper played great and made a lot of great saves,” said Koch. “We needed composure in front of the net, and weren’t able to find that quickly enough to tie the game up.”
In all, it is a tough way to end the year, with many predicting that the team would duplicate last year’s highly successful campaign. And while making the playoffs is no small feat, much more was expected of this team. With five seniors graduating, one of whom is stand-out forward Jovan Blagojevic, the team will try to improve next season and once again compete for the GNAC title that fans expect.