Two first-half goals by the Grinnell Pioneers, coupled with Knox’s continuing inability to finish offensively doomed the Prairie Fire men’s soccer team in its last game this past Saturday. With the loss, Knox ends the season with a 5-12 record and a 1-8 record in Midwest Conference play.
“It’s disappointing,” said senior Clint Moore. “This was the most talented group I’ve played with, and our goal from day one was to make the tournament. Especially after scrimmaging Augustana to a 1-0 loss at the beginning of the year, I think a lot of the guys saw this as a pretty good year. A lot of things didn’t go right for us this year, and not making the tournament is frustrating.”
Saturday’s Homecoming game started slowly offensively, with the contest remaining scoreless until the 27th minute. Grinnell’s Matti Sahel scored the first goal of the game off an assist from Andrew Walsh. Ten minutes later, the Pioneers struck again. This time Charlie Kessner found the back of the net on Mark Rosenberg’s pass, and Grinnell gained a 2-0 lead at intermission.
The second half started similarly to the first, with neither team scoring until the 71st minute. This time, it was the Prairie Fire who found the goal, with freshman Oliver Horton scoring an unassisted goal to put Knox on the board and within one. But Knox could not pull into a tie with the Pioneers, and late in the final minute, Grinnell’s Justin Koester scored on Walsh’s second assist of the game to put the game completely out of reach.
“We played really well, and I’m proud of how well we bounced back after the Ashford game, but we didn’t capitalize on their mistakes,” Moore said. “They capitalized on the few mistakes we made, and the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
For Knox, the end of the season marks the end of the intercollegiate careers of seniors Cary Archer, Jean-Igor Michaux, Nick Moore, Jose Leon, Obasam Onyia, and Moore.
“I was one of the lucky few,” Moore said. “Anyone who gets to play college sport is incredibly fortunate, so getting the chance to play was fantastic. We’ve (the seniors) put a lot of work into the program, trying to step up the leadership and help us advance as a program. We’re losing a lot of senior leadership, so we’ll need some underclassmen to step up off the field for us. But, this year’s juniors are a really talented class, and we’ve got some good young defenders. If we get a couple good recruits at the right positions, I think you’ll see this team make some noise next year.”