Maryville College's quest for back-to-back USA South Tournament titles fell just short in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday, as N.C. Wesleyan College claimed the 2017 crown on their home pitch, 1-0.
The Scots end their season with a stellar 16-3-1 mark with each of their three losses coming by only a goal. Maryville now hopes for an At-Large bid to the NCAA Tournament later this month.
N.C. Wesleyan would find the only goal of the match in the 35th minute, as Ignacio Lerech found his seventh goal of the season.
Lerech would take the ball from 40 yards out, as an MC defender slipped. He would beat two more scrambling to the play, dribbling just inside the 18 before blasting a goal into the right side of the net. That goal would prove the difference in the very physical match, 1-0.
Maryville was outshot 7-5 in the opening half, as the Battling Bishops held a 4-3 advantage on goal. In the second half, however, the Scots posted a 9-5 effort in shots with a trio on goal, finding their best change late in the match.
MC's Rakhmonberdiev would tally a shot in the 89th minute, as it appeared to score. The ball was blocked, sailing just high, before Andrew Sullivan's attempt in the 90th minute was Maryville's closest.
Sullivan caught Jordan Williams off his line, posting a shot on net. N.C. Wesleyan defender Walid Yacoubou stepped in front his Sullivan's header, knocking it away as Williams went after a loose ball on the corner kick.
The match was a physical one, as a total of 36 fouls were called – 22 of those going against N.C. Wesleyan.
Maryville's Chris Fernandez and Rakhmonberdiev led the attack with four shots each for the Scots, as Fernandez recorded two of MC's five shots on goal. Sullivan had a pair of shots as the only other MC player to record multiple looks.
Keeper Ryan Jorgensen turned away six saves in his 90 minutes of action, allowing just one goal.
For N.C. Wesleyan (15-5), it was Baboucarr Njie would had four shots, as Sheriff Secka added a pair. Williams had four saves in the match to preserve the victory and his third shutout of the USA South tournament.