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Providence Soccer Teams Return Home from Nationals

The Providence Pilots Men’s and Women’s soccer teams returned from a week in Kissimmee, Florida where they competed at the NCCAA National Championships.

The highest seed of the three teams was the Women’s soccer team led by Coach Giancarlo Calla. The Pilots entered the Championships as the second seed and would back that seeding up nicely. Their first game was a 5:30 kickoff against Maranatha. The night games at Austin Tindall Soccer Complex always bring out the best in teams as it brings such a big game atmosphere to the event. The Pilots started the game well and managed to get a goal in the 8th minute. Julika Kehler played a great ball through the middle of the field to a sprinting Jess Caul, who finished calmly under the Maranatha goal keeper. After the first 15 minutes, Maranatha began to dominate possession in the middle of the field and never let up pressure. Kate Osadchuk had to make 12 saves in the first half, after Maranatha began to pepper the net. The half ended 1-0 in favour of Providence. The second half began how the first ended with Kate having to stand on her head for most of the game to keep the Pilots ahead. In the 71st min, Maranatha finally got on the board and levelled the game on a nice shot from close range. Maranatha would continue to pile on pressure and was unlucky not to get the winner before the end of regulation. Maranatha would keep the pressure going throughout the two overtime periods but were unable to find the winner. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. Osadchuk finished the game with 34 total saves.

Number six seed, Baptist Bible College, was the next opponent in pool play for the Pilots. This game saw the sole team from Canada impose their style of play. Providence started this game off with great energy and were able to score 7 minutes into the game. Julika Kehler made a great run and Jessica Gzebb found her with a through ball which Julika hammered home to the top corner.  The Pilots kept the pressure up and continued to create multiple chances but couldn't add another goal before half. After 30 minutes of pressure to start the second half, Julika stole the ball in close and finished low and hard pass the keeper. The Pilots created a few more chances in the final minutes but were swatted away from the Baptist defense. The game ended with a final score of 2-0.

Despite not losing a game, the Pilots lost the tie-breaker with Maranatha to advance to the National Championship game. Providence would play Ohio Christian University in the third place game. Providence began the third place game much like their last game with a lot of energy and a lot of focus. Julika Kehler continued her dominance at the tournament as she opened the scoring with a brilliant run throughout the Ohio defence and fired a shot hard and to the top right corner. For the rest of the half, both teams played fairly even, creating chances on both sides. The half ended with the Pilots leading 1-0. A few adjustments made by Providence at half led to a lot more pressure and it paid off. The pressure from Providence led to three unanswered goals in the half. Robyn Coffey got the second goal by pressuring extremely high. She stole the ball around the 18 yard box and hit a beautiful shot to the top corner. 10 minutes later, Julika got her second by making a great run and finishing with a low hard shot to the bottom right corner. The last goal came with the combination of Jess caul and Navreen Sidhu. Caul hit a beautiful cross across the box and Navreen finished with a one timer to the top right corner. Providence ended their National tournament with a 4-0 victory over Ohio and clinched third place.

"16-1-1 is an incredible record and our best in school history. This team has so much to be proud of. I have pushed them very hard all season and they have found ways to respond. Although we didn't reach our ultimate goal of playing in the final, we have such a young team and the lessons that they have learned this year will lead them into even greater future success. The seniors on this team are 49-14-4. They have 3 MCAC titles, 2 regional titles and 3 straight 3rd place finishes at nationals. That is incredible! This season was just another step in the right direction for a growing program. I am proud of all the girls young and old".  

Coach Martin Ward and the Men’s Soccer team entered the Championships as the fourth seed of eight teams. The first match of the tournament was against Maranatha Baptist University. Play was end to end and very even for the first 30 minutes until Maranatha took advantage of a defensive mistake in the Pilots end to take a 1-0 lead into half time. In the 75th minute Maranatha doubled their lead with an impressive volley over the keeper. With 9 minutes left Jon Janke’s shot through a crowded penalty area was deflected past the Maranatha keeper by Peter Garrecht to make it 2-1 and set up a thrilling finish. Despite pressing hard for the tying goal, Providence could not break down the Maranatha defence again. The Pilots dropped the first game 2-1.

The loss to Maranatha automatically put the Pilots out of the running for the National title but they weren’t done fighting for a podium finish. The Pilots would continue with bracket play against Baptist Bible College. 19 minutes into the game, Eric Harvey ran on to a through ball from Peter Garrecht and poked the ball under the onrushing keeper to give the Pilots the early lead. The momentum shifted before half time though as Baptist scored two goals in quick succession to take a surprise 2-1 lead. Just 5 minutes into the second half, Baptist scored again to extend their lead to3-1. Ryan Fast scored with 10 minutes left but for the second game in a row, the last minute efforts were not quite enough and Providence would lose the game 3-2.

The two losses had Providence in the seventh place match against Manhattan Christian College. It wasn’t until the 72nd minute that the game exploded into life when a perfect low cross from Daniel Rempel was converted from close range by Mitchell Martens. A minute later the Pilots were up 2-0 when Martens broke through and beat the keeper on a 1 on 1. In the 85th minute, Manhattan scored to make it 2-1 but Martens responded with another solo effort almost straight from the kick-off to make it 3-1 Providence and record his hat-trick. A second goal from Manhattan a minute later set up a breathless last few minutes to the game but the Pilots held on to the 3-2 lead and would win the game for 7th place in the tournament.

“Although our record wasn’t as good this year as in the last two years, I thought this was the best and most rewarding season for a long time,” Coach Martin Ward after the tournament. |We had to battle for almost every win this year and we developed individually and as a team because of that. To win our NCCAA region after being ranked 3rd was a great achievement and I was so proud of my players. Walking out for our first game at the National Tournament in Florida under floodlights with the national anthems playing is a special experience. We lost that first game to the eventual champions by 1 goal and played very evenly with them. The whole tournament was challenging and emotional and we love the competition and Christian fellowship. It is a great way to end the season and I think we are all thankful for the memories and the friends that we have made this year.”

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