The College of Southern Maryland men’s soccer team, coming into the North Central District Championship match ranked 19th in the nation, toppled the top-ranked Schoolcraft College of Michigan in a 5-4 penalty shootout Nov. 5 to punch their ticket to nationals.
After the scoreless regulation and overtime periods, in which the CSM crowd loudly voiced their enthusiasm, the penalty kicks were filled with tense moments of silence each time a CSM player approached the penalty box. All five CSM penalty shots scored. When it was Schoolcraft’s turn, all but one penalty shot met the back of the net, as freshman CSM goalkeeper Dameon Hayden continued his shootout heroics by diving to his left to stop the final shot. Hayden had also saved key shots in a penalty shootout against Essex in the regional semifinals.
“I read his feet and body,” Hayden said.
The game, played on a brisk Saturday afternoon, marked the first time CSM has ever hosted a District Championship match, as well as the first time post-season contests have been played at home. The field, newly renovated, has a professional-quality playing surface that is considered among the top soccer fields in the conference.
The match-up against the No. 1 ranked squad in the nation, with a 22-0 record prior to the game, further cemented the importance of the game in the eyes of the Hawks.
“They’re number one for a reason,” said CSM Head Coach Derek Dyson before the match.
Once play started, though, the teams appeared to be engaged in a stalemate. A scoreless regulation and overtime provided the fans with a physical, defensive duel, highlighted by the amount of cards given to each team.
The Hawks were dealt five cards, including two yellows which forced CSM to play a man down for most of the second half and throughout overtime. Schoolcraft College received four cards, including a red card.
There were several scoring opportunities that neither squad could capitalize on, as the defenders and goalkeepers from both sides made it difficult to finish any shot.
CSM appeared to have broken the scoring drought by way of a sweeping cross-and-header play from two freshman midfielders, Elhadji Diouf and Troy Young respectively. However, the goal was disallowed as it came just after the halftime buzzer sounded.
Schoolcraft came close to getting on the scoreboard with a hard shot that careened off the crossbar in the 85th minute of regulation. They also had two opportunities thwarted by Diouf’s goal line defense.
The CSM victory was capped off with the classic ‘olay, olay’ chant many soccer fans are familiar with and a Gatorade shower for Dyson.
When asked how the team rallied to pull out the win, Dyson, a first-year head coach, said, “They believed in me, and I believed in them.”
CSM (12-3-3), advances to the NJCAA National Tournament hosted by Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona from Nov. 17-20. The eight teams seeded for the double bracketed tournament are Monroe College, N.Y. (13-1); Darton College, Ga. (17-1); Iowa Western Community College (18-1-1); Lincoln College, Ill. (18-3); Cloud County Community College, Kan. (20-1-3); Tyler Junior College, Texas (17-1-2); Pima Community College, Ariz. (18-6-1) and CSM. This is the second time in the history of CSM’s soccer program that it has advanced to nationals. For information and live coverage of the tournament, visit http://www.pvc.maricopa.edu/njcaa/. For information on CSM athletics, visit www.csmd.edu/Athletics.
Story and photography coverage by CSM students Angel Torres and Diane Payne.