Maryville College advanced to the USA South Tournament Championship tomorrow, as the top-ranked Scots knocked off N.C. Wesleyan College, 1-0, in the conference semifinals.
"They ground it out," Head Coach Pepe Fernandez said. "I thought they forced them into shots. I think they forced them into shots that they knew [Ryan] Jorgensen could save. I think he had to scramble on one, maybe two. Now, if it's an average keeper, it's a little different. Knowing his skills, if we can force them into long range shots, we just believe in him."
Jorgensen – the USA South Goalkeeper of the Year – and the Scots now look to a Championship Saturday Battle of the Scots, as they take on Covenant for the USA South Championship. The Georgian Scots toppled MC 3-0 during regular season play.
First touch is set for 6 p.m. under the lights.
"To be back there, it's great," Fernandez said. "For one, to avenge this loss is pretty special. Last year, the game was similar. They scored early last year, and we absolutely took it to them, and we could not score. This year, I think they had possession, but it wasn't like we gave up a lot of good chances. We just kind of ground it out, and we're just excited to have a chance to overturn a loss [to Covenant] earlier in the year. On our home field, for a chance at an NCAA bid, it's pretty exciting."
Maryville struck early in the first half to set the tone. A Chris Fernandez throw in was headed by Randy Reichenberger before N.C. Wesleyan keeper Tobias Borzel knocked it away. Gavin Dougherty collected the rebound with a header of his own, as Borzel's diving attempt knocked the ball free. MC's Kai Miettinen settled the pinballing shot, redirecting it to the upper left corner for a 1-0 Scots' advantage.
"He took it well," Fernandez said. "Kai was absolutely fantastic tonight. He's been a little up and down. He's gone two years without playing, so he's been up and down a little bit as a player. He's just getting back into it. I think the last couple of games, he's been very, very good. We had a great chance to make it 2-0, and they cleared it off the line. That's soccer. You've got to create those chances, and you have to stick them in early."
That's where the score would remain at the end of the first half. MC held a 5-4 shot advantage in the first 45 minutes, as each of Maryville's five shots found frame. Those five attempts were spread across five different players in Orange and Garnet for the lead.
N.C. Wesleyan (9-7-1) outshot Maryville (13-3-1) 9-3 in the second half and 13-8 for the match. MC had six shots on frame, four for the Battling Bishops.