Written by Sports Information Student Intern, Cameron Rogers
HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's soccer team will host the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference final at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, when they welcome Transylvania.
SEMIFINAL ROUNDUP – The Red and Blue had a semifinal matchup against Manchester on the Tuesday of this week. The Spartans put on the pressure early and nearly found the back of the net in the 21st minute when an attacking Spartan shot, and the ball hit the crossbar. Hanover nearly tallied a goal in the 31st when freshman forward Luke Eppler (Evansville, Ind.) headed in a cross but it was saved by Manchester's keeper. The offensive pressure by the Panthers continued in the second half. Hanover was pushing hard to find its first goal in the 53rd and 54th minute where they managed to take four corner kicks during the stretch. Finally, the offensive push paid off in the 84th minute when freshman midfielder Evan Redmon (Louisville, Ky) lofted a free kick in the box and found the head of sophomore center-back Ethan Miller (Breaux Bridge, La.), giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead and eventually the victory.
Transylvania and Rose-Hulman were the other semifinal matchup that took place on Tuesday. The Pioneers and Engineers closed out the regular season facing each other then had a quick turn around and met again on Tuesday. The tournament contest ended with a penalty shootout where Transylvania beat Rose-Hulman, 5-4. In the two matchups (Oct. 27 and Oct. 30) neither team was able to find the back of the net in a full 220 minutes of play.
ROCK SOLID DEFENSE – The stellar defense for the Panthers continued in the Manchester match-up. Hanover's back four held the Spartans to nine total shots and one shot on target in the contest. Along with Miller, Sophomore Myles Joseph (Lafayette, La.), freshman Sean Fleming (Louisville, Ky.) and freshman Carlos Schryver (Sao Paulo, Brazil) have held all opponents in the HCAC to under 10 shots per game. The Panthers have only conceded four goals in conference play and no team has scored twice in one game since starting HCAC play.
WILKERSON'S TAKEOVER – Head coach Matthew Wilkerson took over the men's soccer program in 2012. Since becoming the head coach, Wilkerson has taken his team to five HCAC conference tournaments, and in those five appearances, three times the Panthers have made it to the championship game. In 2016, Hanover was able to win their first ever conference tournament and moved on to the NCAA Division III national tournament.
PANTHER, PIONEER HISTORY - Hanover has matched up with Transylvania two times in recent HCAC tournament play. In 2015, the Panthers hosted the Pioneers and beat them 1-0. The next year the Red and Blue had to travel to Transylvania in a semifinal away contest. That game ended in a 2-1 victory for Hanover in double overtime.
Earlier in the season Hanover traveled to Transylvania where they lost 1-0. This loss was the first and only conference setback for the Red and Blue this fall.
SELECTION SHOW MONDAY: The winner of the HCAC Championship Saturday afternoon will be the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III National Tournament. The selection show for the national tournament will take place on NCAA.com at 1 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5.
Contact: Tyler Jester