Ancilla soccer clinches home field with 2 shutouts
DONALDSON — The Ancilla College men’s soccer team closed out its regular season with a pair of shutouts, defeating visiting Lakeland Community College 1-0 on Saturday and Delta College 5-0 on Sunday.
In doing so, the Chargers (9-6-1, 9-6-1 Region 12) clinched the fourth seed in the NJCAA Region 12 tournament and have earned the right to host the opening round Wednesday against fifth-seeded Muskegon Community College.
“We came into the weekend with control of our own destiny, and thankfully we took care of business,” said Ancilla men’s soccer coach James Drzewiecki. “Earning home field advantage was something that was very important to us. We’ve been very good at home all year, and we definitely want to have one more match in front of our student body and our supporters.”
Yordan Rivera provided the only goal of the match on Saturday, finishing a rebound in just the fifth minute off his own initial shot. From that point on, the Ancilla backline of Stephan Hohn, Kevin Vilcas, Oscar Velasquez and Matthew Willinger held Lakeland at bay to preserve the victory.
Freshman Pedro Hernandez made six saves to earn his second clean sheet of the season.
“The organization in the back and Pedro’s efforts were huge,” said Drzewiecki. “Our attack was out of synch today, but our defensive efforts were not. That’s the importance of having such a good backline. They really picked us up when we needed them.”
On Sunday, the Chargers put together a more complete performance in a 5-0 rout of Delta.
Manny Awuku scored twice for Ancilla to push his goal total to 13 on the season. His header in the fifth minute opened scoring and he added another in the 51st minute, chipping Delta’s Alex Matern on a breakaway.
Junior Ballard, JaCoby Smith and Juan Delgado all added goals for Ancilla while Rivera, Carlos Ramirez, Michael Peake, Oscar Velasquez and Kevin Vilcas each recorded an assist.
Alex Howe was called on to make just two saves, earning his fourth clean sheet of the season.
“As the match went on, we started really opening up our attack and getting more players involved, and you could see things start to flow a bit more naturally,” said Drzewiecki. “We weren’t so stagnant in our movement, and that really helped us carry the play better than we had the past couple weeks.”
Sophomores Alex Howe, Nic Gunyon, Horraine Lewis, Ralph Charles, and Argos graduate Adam Calhoun were all honored on Sunday by Ancilla for their contributions to the program. The match against Delta marked the final regular season home match in their Ancilla careers.
“That group has come a long way and been through a lot together,” said Drzewiecki. “Hopefully we can postpone our goodbyes a few weeks longer and keep this season going. They mean a lot to us.”
The Chargers will open up their playoff campaign Wednesday when they host Muskegon Community College in the NJCAA Region 12 quarterfinal round. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The winner will advance to Saturday’s semifinal match at Owens Community College in Perrysburg, Ohio, where they will play NJCAA No. 1 Schoolcraft College.