Quakers blank Raiders, off to Ada to face No. 1 ONU

WILMINGTON, Ohio — After seeing its 2021 season end on its home field, the Wilmington College men’s soccer team ensured that wouldn’t happen in 2022.

In the opening round of the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament Tuesday night at Townsend Field, the Quakers shutout the University of Mount Union 4-0 in a conference quarterfinal match.

Wilmington (11-5-2), the No. 4 seed, advances to an OAC tournament semifinal at top-ranked Ohio Northern University on Thursday. Kickoff in Ada is slated for 4 p.m.

The Purple Raiders, which scored a goal in the final minute of the teams’ 3-3 tie on Oct. 22 during the regular season, nearly opened the scoring twice in the first 20 minutes. Leading scorer Jamon McCord found an inch of space near the top of the box and fired a shot with his left foot aimed at the top corner on the near side in the 15th minute. A diving Thomas Grimes didn’t quite reach the ball, but luckily for the hosts, it was slightly deflected by a defender and sailed just wide. Five minutes later, Rylan Wickle took a touch to the inside and curled a shot toward the far corner. It didn’t curl quite enough, however, as it caromed off the post and out of bounds.

Midway through the half, Jeffry Vasquez had two chances at goal. The senior’s first shot was saved by Lucas Fields, but less than 30 seconds later, the Long Island, N.Y. native broke free and beat Fields to the ball. This time, the visitors were the fortunate ones as Vasquez’s shot trickled just wide of the far post.

After about 20 minutes of a torrid playing pace from both teams, the half appeared to be ending scoreless. Wilmington had one final chance, however, as Elorm Dogbey earned the team a free kick in the final minute. Grant Murry lobbed a ball into the box, and it found the feet of Nick In’tZand, who scored his third goal in as many games.

The 15-minute halftime break didn’t cool down the Quakers as less than two minutes into the second half, Vasquez took a pass from Alfie Harris and gave it right back to him as the sophomore from North Molton, England scored with a left-footed strike at close range.

Mount Union took the next nine shots, but couldn’t break through Grimes and the WC back line, and in the 77th minute Sakarias Bahamondez made it 3-0 with a 25-yard strike. Brady Vilvens then assisted on JJ Riggsby’s goal to close out the scoring in the 88th minute.