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LIMA, Ohio — The magical run that was the 2015 season came to a close in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Semifinals for Marygrove men’s soccer as the host and eighth-ranked Racers of Northwestern Ohio held on for a narrow 1-0 victory on Tuesday (Nov. 10) in Lima, Ohio.
The Mustangs (12-7-1) gutted out a solid performance despite facing a few lineup challenges before and during the match. Four-year starting defender Ali El Habhab (Beruit, Lebanon/) was missing from the lineup after suffering a season-ending injury in the WHAC quarterfinals, as was the Mustangs’ 11th player after a second yellow was issued to a member of the Green and Gold midway through the latter half.
The second card forced the Mustangs to play a man down for 29 minutes, or a third of the semifinal match against the nation’s eighth-ranked team.
Sergio Royo converted his 17th goal of the season on a free-kick goal from just outside the box in the eighth minute, giving the Racers an early 1-0 lead in a match to decide the host of the upcoming conference championship on Saturday (Nov. 14). The Racers had chances from there, but the Mustangs’ back line â highlighted by gritty performances from Ma Sambou Jatta (Brufut, The Gambia/Schoolcraft College), Jeff Okerstrom (Redford, Mich./Redford Union High School) and a host of others â held firm for the remainder of the match.
Ayman Youssef (Dearborn Heights, Mich./Walsh Univ.) was huge in net for the Mustangs, stopping six Racers shots while standing tall for a PK attempt that went high to help keep the Green and Gold in striking distance.
The Mustangs had chances throughout the match as well and were led by junior forward Gonzalo Caceres’ five shots. Caceres struck a left-footed ball for the Mustangs lone shot on target in the 56th minute but was stopped by Racers’ keeper Liam Davies to preserve the 1-0 final tally.
In all, the Mustangs recorded seven shots compared to the Racers 17, but put forth a valiant effort in the waning minutes of the contest when playing a man down.
With the season on the line, the Mustangs battled to the end, nearly finding the equalizer on three occasions down the stretch â an effort seventh-year head coach Matt Johnson was proud of after the match.
“We went into a tough environment and played one of the NAIA’s best teams down to the wire despite being a man down and not having things go our way,” said Johnson. “I’m proud of our effort, not just today but throughout the season. The 2015 group is special and helped lay the groundwork for plenty of teams to come.”
Despite ending up on the wrong end of a hard-fought 1-0 battle, the Mustangs remained in the receiving votes section in the latest edition of the NAIA Coaches’ Top-25 Poll released Tuesday afternoon.
2015 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
12 wins â the most in a single season in program history
8 WHAC wins (regular season) â the most in a single season in program history
6 shutouts â the most during the WHAC era (2012-present) â second most all-time (8 in 2010)
RV â the first receiving votes nod in a NAIA Top-25 Poll for any team in Marygrove athletics history
Third-place finish in the WHAC â the highest in program history
The first home playoff win in Marygrove athletics history
Wins over NCAA D2 No. 6 SVSU and NAIA No. 4 UNOH
Abdoulie Jallow named to the WHAC First-Team
Gaoussou Cisse and Oneil Robinson tabbed WHAC Honorable Mention
Abdoulie Jallow,Â Oneil RobinsonÂ and Khalid SuleimanÂ earn WHAC All-Academic awards
Austin Valentine named to the WHAC Champions of Character Team
THANK YOU, SENIORS!
MEN’S SOCCERÂ CONTACT: Tim Johnston |Â [emailÂ protected]/* */Â |Â @tjohnston56
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Category: Men's Soccer