CWRU Men’s Soccer 2018 Season Recap

CWRU Men’s Soccer 2018 Season Recap

The Case Western Reserve University men's soccer team recorded its most successful season in program history, as they finished the campaign with a 16-4-2 overall record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championships.

CWRU men's soccer recorded a seven-game turnaround from the 2017 season to the 2018 season, which ranks as the fifth-best improvement among NCAA Division III teams this season. In 2017, CWRU posted a record of 7-9-2, only to improve to a record of 16-4-2 in the 2018 season.

The Spartans qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament for only the third time program history during the campaign, and made its' first-ever appearance in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships. CWRU's quarterfinal finish was the best in the history of the Case Western Reserve University men's soccer program.

Case Western Reserve finished the year ranked seventh in the final United Soccer Coaches Association Division III Top-25 Poll, a 12-spot improvement on their ranking from earlier in the regular season when they checked in at 19th in the national rankings. This is the highest the team has ever been ranked in the United Soccer Coaches' final poll of the year.

CWRU received a Pool 'C' bid to the tournament and began its postseason by hosting the first two rounds at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Spartans opened the first round with a 3-1 victory over Keystone College. Junior Zachary Senft led the Spartans as he assisted on the first goal of the game that was scored by senior Alex Besl. Senft then scored what would be the game-winning goal in the 79th minute when he received a pass from junior Garrett Winter and poked it past the keeper. He then added an insurance goal in the 89th minute off of a free kick that was just outside the 18-yard box that ticked off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net.

In the Spartans second round matchup against Capital University, CWRU played the Crusaders to a scoreless first half. The Spartans then came out firing in the second half as CWRU got on the board with goals from Winter, Senft and freshman Peter Dernelle. Freshman Charlie Fink was once again exceptional in net, as he made six saves throughout his 90 minutes of action to give the Spartans a 3-0 win.

In the NCAA Sectional Round, once again hosted by CWRU in Cleveland, Ohio, the Spartans defeated Kenyon College on penalty kicks (5-4), after a 2-2 draw in double-overtime in the round of 16. Coming down to the final kick, Winter was able to convert for CWRU, shifting the pressure to the Lords final kicker, David Anderson, who scored the game-tying goal earlier in the contest. However, Fink made a diving save on the shot, deflecting it away to allow the Spartans to advance to the next round.

CWRU's 2018 ultimately came to an end as they came out on the short end of a 3-1 verdict to Calvin College in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The Spartans were led during the season by a talented senior class, including All-UAA First Team and All-Great Lakes Region Second Team selection Alex Besl and All-UAA Honorable Mention senior defender Christian Lytle. In addition, sophomore defender Nathan Ekberg and Senft earned All-UAA First Team honors, while Winter and Fink were tabbed as honorable mention selections.

Besl, a United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America Third Team selection, capped off his Spartan career by a posting a strong senior campaign. He finished the year tied for second on the team with nine goals and tallied three assists for 21 points. Besl accounted for three game-winning goals throughout the season, including the game-winner against then ninth-ranked Rochester (N.Y.). For his career, he has tallied 14 goals and registered eight assists for 36 points. Besl earned UAA Offensive Athlete of the Week honors on October 29.

Lytle and Ekberg, an All-Great Lakes Region First Team selection, led the Spartans defensively as they aided the team to seven shutouts during the season. The Spartans defense ranked 104th in Division III with a 1.01 goals-against average after yielding just 23 goals through 22 games. CWRU held opponents to just 10.95 shots and 4.4 shots on goal per game. In addition, Lytle and Ekberg each played a role on the offensive side of the pitch. Ekberg scored five goals for 10 points, including the game-winning goal against Westminster (Pa.) on October 22. Lytle tallied one goal which ended up being the game-winner against then seventh-ranked Kenyon College on September 26.

Senft, an All-Great Lakes Region Second Team selection, led the team this season with 28 points on 10 goals and eight assists. He scored game-winning goals against Heidelberg, Adrian and Keystone. Senft earned UAA Offensive Athlete of the Week honors on October 15 and November 12. In his two years as a Spartan, Senft has already totaled 16 goals and 11 assists for 43 points. His 28 points in a season currently ranks tied for the seventh-best mark in program history.

Winter, a Google Cloud Academic All-District First Team selection, had a breakout season during his junior campaign. He ranked second on the team with 24 points on nine goals and six assists. Winter scored a team-high four game-winning goals in 2018, including the game-winner on a penalty kick to defeat the then top-ranked University of Chicago on October 14 and the game-winner against Capital University in the round of 16 on November 11.

Fink had a tremendous freshman campaign, as he started all 22 games in net and posted a 16-4-2 individual record. Fink only allowed 22 goals in over 1,977 minutes in net for a 1.00 goals-against average. He made 69 saves and registered a .758 save percentage. Fink earned UAA Defensive Athlete of the Week honors on October 1.

The Spartans' coaching staff also received honors during the 2018 campaign, as they were named the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year and earned the 2018 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors. Along with Head Coach Brandon Bianco, assistant coaches Charlie Reymann and Chris Black all shared the honors, after helping the Spartans to its first-ever NCAA Championship quarterfinal appearance in program history.

In addition to the team's success on the field, the Spartans excelled in the classroom as well. Besl, senior Brady Daulton, Ekberg, sophomore Andrew Engelmeyer, senior Reed Kurtenbach, junior Kyle Lewis, Lytle, sophomore Seldon Magruder, junior Chas Novitsky, Senft, Winter and junior Brian Woo all received UAA fall All-Academic recognition.

The Spartans earned the following honors during the 2018 season:

CoSIDA Academic All District

Garrett Winter

First Team

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. / Bloomfield Hills

 

United Soccer Coaches All-Great Lakes Region

Nathan Ekberg

First Team

Liberty Township, Ohio / Lakota East

Alex Besl 

Second Team

Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier 

Zachary Senft

Second Team

Bay Village, Ohio / St. Ignatius

 

United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America

Alex Besl

Third Team

Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier 

 

All-University Athletic Association

Alex Besl

First Team

Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier 

Zachary Senft 

First Team

Bay Village, Ohio / St. Ignatius

Nathan Ekberg

First Team

Liberty Township, Ohio / Lakota East

Christian Lytle 

Honorable Mention

Liberty Township, Ohio / Lakota West

Garrett Winter

Honorable Mention

Bloomfield Hills, Mich. / Bloomfield Hills

Charlie Fink

Honorable Mention

Akron, Ohio / Revere

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

Charlie Fink

Akron, Ohio / Revere

 Oct. 1

Zachary Senft

Bay Village, Ohio / St. Ignatius

Oct. 15, Nov. 12

Alex Besl

Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier 

Oct. 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following were the 2018 statistical leaders for the Spartans: 

Goals

Zachary Senft

10

Assists

Zachary Senft, Connor Weber

8

Points

Zachary Senft 

28

Game Winning Goals

Garrett Winter

4

Shots

Zachary Senft

82

Shots on Goal

Zachary Senft

35

Wins

Charlie Fink 

16

Saves

Charlie Fink

69

Shutouts

Charlie Fink

6

Goals Against Average

Calvin Boyle

1.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*minimum of 900 minutes