The Wheaton College men’s soccer team captured the New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) title after defeating top seed MIT on Sunday. Fueled by a relentless defensive effort and a late second half goal by Travis Blair ’15, the Lyons avenged their 1-0 NEWMAC loss last season to MIT with a 1-0 victory of their own.
Blair’s game-winner was his 17th of the season, the second most amongst all players in the NEWMAC. The Lyons had multiple scoring opportunities earlier in the contest, as shots by both Adam Sholi ’14 and Scott Enman threatened the MIT goalkeeper.
For the Lyons, Matt Dickey ’16 was strong in net, recording three saves while the defense prevented MIT from developing their potent offense. After the goal by Blair, the Lyons became less aggressive as they focused on depleting the remainder of the clock.
The victory puts Wheaton in the middle of the NCAA Division III championship tournament, which is scheduled to occur Nov. 15-17. The Lyons have now finished their season with seven consecutive victories, and will look to keep that momentum carrying them into the tournament.
The victory is additionally special for Sholi, the only senior on the men’s soccer roster, who discussed the lessons he’s learned from Head Coach Matt Cushing.
“More than anything, I’ve learned that hard work will pay off”, said Sholi of the expectations Cushing sets for his team. “He demands a certain performance from us”.
Sholi recently returned to the team after taking time off to focus on academics. As a lifelong soccer player, the decision was difficult, but he has enjoyed his newfound role as a veteran on the roster this season.
“There are so many great players on the team, that I think the team doesn’t look at me as one of the stud athletes, but more as a leader because I’m older”.
Sholi and the rest of the Lyons await the NCAA tournament with open arms, as they look to make Wheaton proud.