Williams’ Heroics in Goal Lifts TU on Penalty Kicks
UPLAND, Ind. – After a scoreless 110 minutes of play, the Taylor men’s soccer team advanced on penalty kicks over Mount Vernon Nazarene in the Crossroads League Tournament Quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The Trojans (6-7-4, 3-3-3 CL) were a perfect three-for-three in the shootout and junior Luke Williams blanked the Cougars (8-6-5, 3-3-3 CL) on their three attempts.
Williams was impressive during the shootout to help TU prevail and move on to its first CL Tournament Semifinals appearance since 2012. Williams saw the first attempt go wide and made diving stops on the next two attempts. The Indianapolis native’s second save sealed the deal and sent the student section running onto the pitch to celebrate with head coach Gary Ross’ team.
Senior Andrew Johnson lined up first for Taylor and was able to sink his try into the lower-right corner, while the MVNU keeper dove the opposite direction. Freshman Clay Vander Kolk repeated what his teammate did and sank the team’s second attempt. After being up 2-0 in the shootout, senior Jeremiah Rader took the team’s third try and placed his attempt just under the outstretched keeper and gave the squad a 3-0 tilt.
Williams was a wall all match and made four saves and deflected numerous crosses and corner kicks to prevent the Cougars from scoring. The keeper now has 68 saves for the season.
The Trojans relied on their strong defense once more, as they secured their fifth shutout and fourth this month. Sophomore Noah Rodman made his first start of the season on the backline and kept the MVNU offense at bay all match, along with senior Charbel Salako, junior Michael Maloney and Johnson.
During the match, the Cougars held a 14-8 shot advantage, but the Purple and Gold had five on-frame, compared to the visitor’s four. Rader led the offense with three shots, while junior Josiah Wieland added a pair.
Taylor will hit the road on Saturday and visit No. 1 seed Spring Arbor (15-3-1, 9-0 CL) in the CL Tournament Semifinals. The Cougars won 1-0 on September 26 in the previous matchup.