The Messiah men’s soccer team played sparkling defense en route to its third consecutive national title, allowing just one goal during five NCAA tournament games. The Falcons shut out Wheaton (Illinois), 3-0, November 25 to become just the second team in Division III history to win four national championships.
Both teams played close in the final’s first 20 minutes before Messiah junior Josh Sanders broke the stalemate with his sixth goal of the season. Sanders took a feed from junior back Dan Visser to beat Wheaton goalkeeper Ryan Souders and put the Falcons ahead, 1-0.
Messiah kept the pressure on for the remainder of the opening half and converted a second opportunity when freshman Brett Faro tallied his fifth goal of the season on a cross from all-American Kai Kasiguran.
Sanders added his second goal of the contest and seventh of the season in the game’s 57th minute to give Messiah its three-goal advantage.
Wheaton was an improbable opponent for the defending national champions, as the Thunder struggled to an 8-7-3 mark before winning their final two regular-season games. The team continued its strong play and won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"To play the way we have recently and to get to this far in the tournament after some frustrating parts of the season was a great way to end the year," said senior Steve Rigby.
Messiah’s defense was strong all season, allowing just 10 goals in 24 games. The Falcons registered 15 shutouts during the year, and starting goalkeeper Dustin Shambach boasted a goals-against average of 0.42. Shambach made one save in the championship game.
Messiah defeated DeSales and Arcadia in the opening rounds of the tournament before advancing on penalty kicks against Williams in the third round. The Falcons went on to beat Johns Hopkins and New York University before defeating Wheaton.
Messiah spoiled the final game of Wheaton coach Joe Bean’s legendary career. The winningest men’s soccer coach in NCAA history, Bean finished his career with a record of 607-185-61.
"You will not find a better steward of the game than coach Bean. He deserves to be here. I wish we could have gotten him a win tonight, but there is no one who deserves this as much as he does," Souders said after the game.
Bean was 2-2 in national championship games and led Wheaton to titles in 1984 and 1997. Following a 45-year career, Bean will be inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in January.
Wheaton (Ill.) 0, York (Pa.) 0 [Wheaton (Ill.) advances on penalty kicks, 3-2]; Ohio Wesleyan 2, Dominican (Ill.) 0; New York U. 1, Nazareth 0; Messiah 2, Johns Hopkins 1.
Messiah 1 2 — 3
New York U. 0 0 — 0
First half: M — Dan Visser (Mike Rinker), 32:36.
Second half: M — Eric Frey (Visser), 51:34; M — Dan Wagner, 88:33.
Shots: Messiah 15, New York U. 0. Goalkeeper saves: Messiah (Dustin Shambach) 0; New York U. (Chris Wright) 6. Corner kicks: Messiah 4, New York U. 1.
Ohio Wesleyan 0 0 — 0
Wheaton (Ill.) 1 0 — 1
First half: W — Joel DeLass (Ben Theimer), 10:18.
Shots: Ohio Wesleyan 8, Wheaton (Ill.) 11. Goalkeeper saves: Ohio Wesleyan (Jamison Dague) 3; Wheaton (Ill.) (Ryan Souders) 1. Corner kicks: Ohio Wesleyan 6, Wheaton (Ill.) 6.
Messiah 2 1 —3
Wheaton (Ill.) 0 0 —0
First half: M — Josh Sanders (Visser), 23:06; M — Brett Faro (Kai Kasiguran, Andre Burckhart), 37:22.
Second half: M — Sanders (Tim Stello), 56:12.
Shots: Messiah 16, Wheaton (Ill.) 5. Goalkeeper saves: Messiah (Dustin Shambach) 1; Wheaton (Ill.) (Ryan Souders) 6. Corner kicks: Messiah 8, Wheaton (Ill.) 2.