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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Men’s soccer claims Midwest Conference Tournament Championship a second time

Men%E2%80%99s+soccer+claims+Midwest+Conference+Tournament+Championship+a+second+time

The two-time MWC Tournament champions take on Ohio Wesleyan in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Knox College defeated Cornell College 2-0 to win the Midwest Conference Tournament for the second time in program history. With this victory, the Prairie Fire will play against Ohio Wesleyan on Friday in the NCAA Tournament. 

The two-game tournament took place at Jorge Prats Field with Knox entering as the number one overall seed. Their first game pitted them against Lawrence University. Knox’s lone conference loss came against Lawrence (7-1 conference record). 

In that first matchup, Knox outshot Lawrence University 28-7, but the two goals for the Vikings came on penalty kicks. Knowing that they had control of the game, it was an emphasis for the Prairie Fire to avoid those penalty kick situations. 

“They got a couple of penalties, so going into it we knew we dominated last time, but we had to be more efficient and not put ourselves in those predicaments,” senior midfielder/forward Joey Dorgan said. 

Dorgan kickstarted the scoring for Knox, ironically off a penalty kick in the second half. Dorgan had fallen into a drought scoring-wise — he hadn’t scored in exactly a month — but it was good for him to get on the board.

“I haven’t scored recently, so personally I was just having to break the urge,” Dorgan said. “The hardest part this season was getting our first, but once we get our first we’ll be able to get two. Get two then we can get three.”

That blueprint proved fruitful as freshman Luis Silva scored his third goal of the season followed by senior midfielder/defender Lucas Piqueras. The 3-0 victory over the Vikings vaulted Knox into the title game against Cornell College. 

The defense played a key role for Knox, as it has all season. The team didn’t allow a single goal in both the semifinal and final games. In conference play, Knox allowed an average 0.75 goals per game which led the Midwest Conference. That high-level defense requires buy-in from the entire team. Over the years, defense has become the calling card for Knox. 

“Defense has always been our strongest point. We’ve always taken pride in not conceding a lot of goals and being a hard team to break down,” fifth-year defender Michael Pavlick said. “Defense is something you have to do as a team, not just the back four, even though we’re marked as defenders. It takes everyone on the team to do their job. Everybody has to be in the right spot to make sure that we can push the other team in the direction that we want and make them easier for us to defend on the backline.” 

Against Cornell College, the entire team, specifically the midfielders, put together an excellent performance defensively. 

“Our defensive shape was really good. I keep going back to our midfield,” Dorgan said. “That was really the core. From the keeper, to the center backs, to Ashton [Zeringue ‘22], and Martin [Garcia ‘22], all the way up the core was really good defensively staying behind the ball and communicating.”

The midfield was a huge strength for Knox in the MWC Tournament, and all season. Sophomore midfielder, Alex White offered up high praise fot them’s defense. 

“It started with our forwards and wingers in our midfield; everyone was really disciplined. Everyone did their job up there, which made it really hard to play through us. And when they did play through us, I mean our defenders, like, we have the best defense I think in the region like Raleigh [Berry ‘22] and Lucas [ Piqueras ‘22]  are not easy players to dribble pass.

Communication is the strength of any team sport, especially in soccer, when you’re working in unison with everyone on the field. Each player has to listen to each other to ensure everyone is in the right spots or else the team can’t push the team in the direction that they want them to go. 

“The communication with the 6, Ashton, is huge. He’s kind of our cushion in front of us so we always want to make sure he’s in an area that we feel is the most dangerous because he’ll be able to relieve that pressure for us,” Pavlick said. “Being able to communicate well with him, making sure he’s in the right position, as well as him being able to tell us where to be because he has a different perspective of the field than we do.”

With the Midwest Conference Tournament Championship in hand, it’s time to focus on preparation for the national tournament. 

“It was like a weight falling off our shoulder. We knew we were the best team, we proved that, now let’s prove to more people outside of our community what we can do,” Dorgan said.

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