ALBION, Mich. – The men's soccer team (4-9-1, 6-13-1) dropped a close game, 2-1, to Albion College (1-13, 2-17) in a cold rain Tuesday afternoon in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play.
Senior captain Travis Smith scored for the second time in as many games to tie the game at 1-1 just over 26 minutes into the game. Smith scored his second of the season off an assist from Nick Minshall, who earned his team-leading 21st point of the season.
The Britons scored the go-ahead goal late- just after the 72-minute mark and held on for the final minutes to secure the win.
With the loss, the team endured a total of nine one-goal loses on the season. No team beat the Bulldogs by more than two goals all season. Of the teams that did beat the Bulldogs by two goals this season, only one of them was not nationally-ranked at some point during the season.
The team made an incredible turnaround from the season's beginning to its end as the statistics can attest to. The team started nearly two-thirds of its roster as underclassman (seven of 11 starters) and while most of the first-year players were getting acclimated, steady progress ensued.
The first three-fifths of the schedule (12 games) saw the team at 3-9-getting one win in every four-game segment. But the final two-fifths of the schedule (8 games) saw the team much improved at 3-4-1. Every one of the four loses in the final eight games was by a single goal in a game that could have gone either way.
The latter two-fifths (last 8 games) of the season also included points against two nationally-ranked opponents and a sophisticated counter-attack approach that the team bought into as the season wore on-not only frustrated opponents, but started producing results. The team went 2-0-1 against two nationally-ranked opponents and the top-three teams in the MIAA (Calvin, Hope, Olivet) in those final eight games.
In addition to the statistical improvement, the team ended the season with a five-game home unbeaten streak (4-0-1), including their home finale Saturday where they tied MIAA champion and last year's national champion runner-up, Calvin College. The men's soccer team was also the recipient of the Pathways to Excellence Award, by gift of the Shaffer family, in recognition of having the highest grade point average improvement of any varsity team in an academic year's timespan.