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#11 Men’s Soccer falls 1-0 to Williams (Mass.) in third round of NCAA Tournament

By Wes Mayberry

GAMBIER — In a tightly contested defensive battle, the Ohio Northern men's soccer team fell 1-0 to Williams (Mass.) in the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Mavec Field on the campus of Kenyon College.

The Polar Bears end their season with an overall record of 13-4-5, while the Ephs improve to 8-1-11 and advance to Sunday's national quarterfinals.

Both teams tallied 11 shots in Saturday's game, but the defenses kept most of those shots off target. Northern finished with a slim 3-2 edge in shots on goal and 4-3 advantage in corner kicks.

The Ephs finally broke through in the second half, as Nathan Song found the back of the net from close range for an unassisted goal in the 57th minute. The Williams defense and goalkeeper Ben Diffley preserved the shutout from there.

"They made it extremely difficult," ONU head coach Chris Matejka said of the Ephs. "I thought there was going to be a barrage of restarts, long throws and corners, and it was going to be a test of how well we could handle those moments. Unfortunately, we didn't handle one of them well enough, and they made us pay."

The Polar Bears developed one last good offensive opportunity in the waning seconds off of a free kick. Sophomores Sam McKee (Mason) and Stephen Duggan (Saginaw, Mich./Freeland) both got shots off in the final 10 seconds but were unable to score.

Saturday's game marked just the second time Northern had been shut out all season.

Senior Josh Ellis (Whitehouse/Anthony Wayne) played well in goal for ONU, making one save and allowing just the one goal.

The Polar Bears were making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and first since 2019. This marked the team's deepest NCAA Tournament run since finishing as the national runner-up in 2012.

Matejka was proud of what his team accomplished this season despite falling short of the ultimate goal.

"We have some great people on this team, and the seniors deserve a pat on the back because they did an excellent job," Matejka said. "We put so much into this, and I'm super proud of everyone from top to bottom. I'm looking forward to next season."