Purple Raiders, No. 9 Polar Bears Meet in OAC Semifinals

Chris Felker (Photo by Lenny Reich)
Chris Felker (Photo by Lenny Reich)

The Mount Union men's soccer is set to play No. 9 Ohio Northern in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Ada. The fifth-seed Purple Raiders defeated Wilmington, 1-0-, on Monday to advance to play the Polar Bears, who earned a first round bye as the No. 1 seed.

Unlike the first time these two teams met this season, there will be a winner Tuesday afternoon. Even though they were outshot, 36-9, a second half goal by Thomas Beck (Poland/Cardinal Mooney) was enough for the Raiders to earn a 1-1 draw on October 1st in Alliance.

Fifth-year head coach John Witkowski has the Purple Raiders (10-8-2) in the semifinals for the first time since 2003 and hopes this is the season the program wins its first OAC Tournament championship.

The Purple Raiders have been led by the trio of Beck, senior Kevin Cindric (Willowick/Eastlake North), and freshman Chris Motley (Kent/St. Vincent-St. Mary). Beck is third in the OAC with 12 goals and 28 points. Cindric is tied for second on the team with five goals, including three last week, to go along with five assists. Motley has also scored five goals and recorded four assists. He assisted on Beck's game-winning goal Monday night.

Junior goalkeeper Jon Critell (Youngstown/Cardinal Mooney) enters the match having posted shutouts in three straight games. His 16 career shutouts place him in a tie for the most in program history, and his eight shutouts this season are second in the OAC.

Ohio Northern (16-2-2), led by 14th-year head coach Brent Ridenour, has won three of the past five OAC Tournaments. The Polar Bears enter the match unbeaten in their last 12 games (11-0-1) and an eight-match winning streak during which they have outscored opponents, 27-2.

Four Polar Bears rank in the top ten of the OAC in points this season, led by junior Nate Bascom. He is tied for first in the conference with 33 points, second with 13 goals, and tied for first with seven assists on the season. Junior Cameron Johnson, a First Team All-OAC selection last season, is fourth in the conference with 24 points and ten goals. Senior Christian Huelsman, also a First Team All-OAC selection last season, is eighth in the conference with 18 points (six goals, six assists). Junior Chris Matejka is tied for tenth in the conference with 15 points and is tied with Bascom with seven assists.

Junior goalkeeper Mac Church leads the OAC in several categories. He is first in shutouts (10), wins (16), and save percentage (.820). Since Beck's goal in the 77th minute on October 1st, Church has allowed just two goals.

The winner of Wednesday's match advances to the OAC Tournament final on Saturday at 2 p.m. and awaits the winner of John Carroll and Baldwin-Wallace, who play in the other semifinal.

2011 OAC Men's Soccer Tournament
Quarterfinals -October 31
No. 3 Baldwin-Wallace 4, No. 6 Capital 1
No. 5 Mount Union 1, No. 4 Wilmington 0

Semifinals -November 2
No. 3 Baldwin-Wallace at No. 2 John Carroll (7-2)-7:00
No. 5 Mount Union at No. 1 Ohio Northern (8-0-1)-2:00

Finals - November 5 (Highest seed hosts at 2 or 7 pm)

-Quarterfinals/Semifinals/Finals - $7
-OAC Student with valid ID - Free
-Non-OAC Students 18 years and under - $2
-Senior 62 years and older - $5 OAC
-Lifetime Passes will be honored for all championships. Regular season passes will not be honored.