(Cleveland, Ohio) – Goals in the second half by senior forward Alex Besl and junior midfielder Zachary Senft helped the 19th-ranked Case Western Reserve University Spartans overcome a first half deficit and defeat Keystone College 3-1 in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Championship on Saturday at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Spartans will now advance to the second round of the NCAA Championships at DiSanto Field on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., where they will play the winner of the first-round match between Capital University and Westminster College later on Saturday.
The Spartans controlled the pace of the game in the first half, outshooting the Giants 10-3, but Keystone took the early lead in the game on junior midfielder Ibrahim Tounkara's third goal of the season. Tounkara struck in the ninth minute of the game, after the Spartans were unable to clear a corner kick by the Giants. The ball pin-balled its way to Tounkara's feet inside the six-yard box, and he was able to send one into net to put Keystone ahead 1-0.
The Spartans had a chance to even the score in the first half after junior midfielder Zachary Senft was taken down inside the 18-yard box in the 22nd-minute, but the resulting penalty kick was saved by Keystone keeper Erick Gomez.
Case Western Reserve would turn the tide less than a minute into the second half. Senft would make a move around a pair of defenders and drive into the box, launching a shot on goal that was deflected by Gomez, directly to senior forward Alex Besl. Besl would take advantage of the second-chance opportunity, sending a shot past Gomez for his team-leading ninth goal of the campaign, evening the score at 1-1. Senft earned his team-best eighth assist of the campaign on the goal.
The score remained knotted until the 79th minute of play, when Senft gave the Spartans their first lead of the game, taking a pass from junior Garrett Winter and poking it past the keeper for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Senft would add onto the lead in the 89th minute off a free kick. Winter tipped the ball back off the kick towards Senft, who launched a shot from just outside the 18-yard box that ticked off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net.
The Spartans outshot the Giants 29-4, including a 10-2 advantage in shots on goal. Senft registered a season-high 11 shots, including four on goal, while Winter tallied five shots.
Freshman goalkeeper Charlie Fink went the distance and made one save to improve to 15-3-1 individually.
Case Western Reserve improved to 15-3-1 with the win, while Keystone's season came to a close with a 12-5-1 overall record.