Courtesy of Catholic Athletic Communications
WASHINGTON, D.C. - For the fourth time in the 13-year history of the Landmark Conference, the Catholic University men's soccer team can call itself champion as the 21st-ranked Cardinals defeated Elizabethtown 2-0 on Saturday at Carlini Field.
A headed goal from senior Ryan Kennedy in the first half and another from junior Nelson Zimmerman in the second lifted Catholic (18-2-1) over the Blue Jays in a rematch of last year's conference championship. The victory completes an undefeated conference campaign for the Cardinals after nine wins against Landmark opponents this season.
After an evenly-matched start to the contest, the Cards took the lead thanks to another goal off the head of Kennedy. Catholic earned a free kick outside the left side of the 18-yard box, and senior Andrew Laurenzano delivered a dangerous cross into the area.
In a full-extension dive, Kennedy glanced the header past Elizabethtown goalkeeper Kelvin Del Cid to give the Cardinals a 1-0 advantage in the 25th minute. The senior has emerged as a set-piece specialist this season with four goals as a central defender.
Catholic headed into the halftime intermission with the one-goal lead, outshooting Elizabethtown 7-3 in the first forty-five minutes. Just minutes into the second half, however, the hosts nabbed an important second goal thanks to an instant-impact substitution from Zimmerman.
Midfielder Darius Siahpoosh went down after a tough play in the 48th minute and made way for Zimmerman. After 38 seconds of coming onto the pitch, Zimmerman scored his first goal of the season to double Catholic's lead.
Sophomore forward Ben Alexander played a ball to a cutting Paul Egan on the right side of the box to start the move. Egan faked a shot with his right foot and cut a slick pass back into the center of the penalty area where Zimmerman got on the end of it at the six-yard box for a goal.
The Blue Jays (11-6-2) held an 8-5 shooting advantage in the second half but could not find the back of the net as the Cardinals held on to the 2-0 lead and later celebrated its first conference championship since 2014 in front of a roaring crowd at Carlini Field.
Junior goalkeeper Jack Long made three saves in his 16th win of the season. Defenders Kennedy, Nick Battaglia, Mike Narzikul, Mason Reinhart, and Mitch Ford all helped keep the Blue Jays' offense in check, giving Elizabethtown its first loss on the road this season.
Alexander was named the Landmark Conference tournament's Most Valuable Player after leading the Cardinals with three goals and nine shots in the two victories.
The win marks the fourth Landmark championship for head coach Travis Beauchamp and the Cardinals, the conference's winningest team since the league formed in 2007.
Up next for Catholic is the NCAA Tournament that gets underway with the first and second rounds beginning on Friday, Nov. 15 and Sunday, Nov. 17, respectively. The selection show for the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship will be live on the NCAA website on Monday, November 11 at 1:30 p.m.