D-III Tourney: Calvin Falls To Same Fate

For fourth straight year, Calvin falls via penalty kicks

Nov. 15, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS – For Calvin seniors like Elizabeth Ribbens, the penalty kick shootout elicits more chills than thrills.

After forcing a 0-0 draw in their second-round match-up against the University of Chicago, the No. 4 Knights were eliminated from the NCAA-III Tournament for the fourth consecutive year via shootout, falling to the Maroons, 7-6, in the Regional finale at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

“I was thinking, ‘Please, someone just give it that little extra push,’” said Ribbens. “I was just hoping we could connect…and just get it in there.”

Calvin (18-3-2) narrowly avoided a shootout against Mount St. Joseph in the first round at Zuidema Field on Friday – Natalie Veurink scored with under nine minutes left in double overtime to give the Knights a 1-0 win – but was unable to on Saturday, withering in the eighth round of penalty kicks.

The Knights were similarly ousted by Wittenberg in a 3-1 shootout outcome in the 2007 Tournament while faltering against Messiah and Ohio Wesleyan in 2006 and 2005, respectively.

“I think it’s just frustrating, especially for the seniors because the last four years it has ended this way,” said junior goalkeeper Kalya Sulzer.

After Carly Prins was denied to begin the final frame, the Maroons rattled off three straight goals to pull ahead, 3-2, over the Knights, who opted to shoot first and defend second.

Kellie Honderd evened the score at 3-3 by depositing a strike in the upper-left hand corner of the net, and then it was Sulzer who revived the Knights’ hopes with a diving save to stop Chicago’s Emily Benoit heading into the fifth round.

Both teams swapped goals in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds until Veurink, the hero in Friday’s first-round win, ricocheted her shot off the crossbar, making it possible for Chicago to claim a victory with one more goal.

The Maroons did just that, as their freshman goalkeeper Emma Gormley marched from the goal line to the PK line and beat Sulzer to clinch the win for Chicago.

“It’s just a really hard way to end the season,” said Sulzer. “It’s nice only because nobody’s ever really beaten us, but it’s a hard way to lose.”

The loss snapped Calvin’s 13-game win streak, dating back to Sept. 27 when the Knights turned in a 5-0 drubbing of Hope to begin their conference season.

It marked the second consecutive second-round defeat for the Knights, whose best NCAA-III Tournament finish was in 2006 when they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Messiah, the No. 2 team in the country this year.

“It’s been a great season,” said Ribbens. “It’s been really rewarding to play on a team with these players. Everyone’s so positive and we all have the same goal in mind. We love each other and we love soccer.”

Calvin earned an automatic bid to its fourth straight national with a 3-0 win over Alma on Nov. 9 in the MIAA title game. The Knights burnished an 11-0 conference record in 2008 and outscored league opponents 37-1 throughout MIAA play, helping to build a season-high No. 4 ranking heading into last week.

“He’s proud of us – we know he is,” said Sulzer of Calvin coach Mark Recker. “Our defense did great – we’ve had a lot of sophomores step up, especially since (Ashley) Bolen’s been hurt – and it’s a good way to segway into next year.”

Ribbens and Bolen, who missed the past month due to a knee injury, are two of five seniors who played their final collegiate game on Saturday. Liz Van Rees, Juliana Litts and Michelle Koele, who exited the game early because of a leg injury, are the other seniors who won four straight MIAA titles during their four-year careers at Calvin.

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