WILMINGTON, Ohio – Throughout the months of July and August, the Wilmington College Office of Athletic Communications, through the lens of Director Mitch Blankespoor, is going to revisit some of its favorite memories of each sport throughout the 2019-20 academic year.
Today's entry will be memories for the men's soccer season. Click below to view past entries.
I'll remember the 2019 WC men's soccer season as a tale of two halves. The first half of the year began with the Fightin' Quakers on fire and appearing in the regional rankings while the second half, due to a rigorous Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) schedule and some injuries, saw the squad slide out of postseason competition on the final day of the regular season.
I have a couple of memories to highlight from this season, the first being the #QuakerBowlRivalry game with Earlham College. Full transparency, I used to work at Earlham, so this game is always one I want our teams to win. Wilmington entered the game with a 3-1-0 record having defeated Cincinnati State University 10-0 in the opener, Mount St. Joseph University 5-0 on the road and split two contests at the annual Kiwanis Classic.
The game was never competitive as Wilmington scored five goals in the first half include four in the first 24 minutes. The hosts "called off the dogs" in the second half and still tallied a 26-3 shots advantage. The defensive, alongside goalkeepers Felix Maurer and Bradyn Riffle, kept a clean sheet. Wilmington rode that momentum to three more victories - over Bethany College (West Virginia) 3-0, Wittenberg University 2-1 and Franklin College 11-0. After a slim 2-1 defeat at the hands of nationally-ranked Kenyon College and a 1-1 draw at Anderson University, the Quakers were set to begin OAC play with a 7-2-1 record in non-conference competition.
With October beginning, Wilmington stayed hot in conference play, avenging a defeat at Heidelberg University a season ago with a 3-0 shutout victory. The squad followed that up with a 5-0 whitwashing of Muskingum University, and after a 0-0 draw at the University of Mount Union, nationally-ranked Ohio Northern University came to Williams Stadium on Oct. 16 for what would prove to be my favorite memory of the 2019 WC men's soccer season.
To set the stage, ONU entered the game ranked No. 21 in the country, 11-2-1 and atop the conference standings with a 3-0-0 record. Wilmington, on the other hand, was 9-2-2 and 2-0-1 in OAC play. The Polar Bears more than doubled the Quakers in total shots (16-6), but it was Wilmington which scored first as Ian Molfenter slipped by the ONU defense and scored unassisted in the 65th minute. The Polar Bears answered less than 10 minutes later on a header goal that tied the contest 1-1 with less than 20 minutes to play.
The next 15 minutes saw possession staying mainly in the middle third as just a single shot was fired between both sides. Wilmington got the ball deep in ONU territory and earned two corner kicks in the final two minutes. On the second, Bruce Anthony pounced on a loose ball in the box and buried the game-winner.
Unfortunately, that would be the final victory for the team on the season as the final five games ended in defeat. Though the contest wasn't at home, I do remember getting very nervous following the live video of the contest at Capital University on Oct. 30. There were eight total goals scored in the second half in a game that saw Wilmington come back from multiple-goal deficits on two different occasions. Two Ian Molfenter goals, both assisted from Nati Wallis in the final 10 minutes, tied the game 4-4. The Crusaders were victorious, however, as a violation inside the box gave Capital a penalty kick, which was converted, in the final minute.