By: Andrew Korba
SAN ANTONIO (Tx.)--The No. 5 Ohio Northern men's soccer team advanced to their first ever NCAA III Tournament Championship, topping No. 7 Williams (Mass.) by a 3-2 score on Friday afternoon at Blossom Soccer Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.
The Polar Bears improve to 25-2-0 on the season, while Ephs conclude their season at 16-2-4.
Ohio Northern will now face No. 1 Messiah (Pa.) at 2:30 pm EST on Saturday.
Senior Nate Bascom scored at the 15:04 mark for his 56th career goal.
His 56 goals now tie him with current ONU head coach Brent Ridenour for the most in school history.
"My congratulations goes out to Nate on tying the record," Ridenour said. "This record has stood for a long time. Nate is a great player and I am very excited for him to hold this distinction."
The Ephs saw the first chance to score on the afternoon when Partick Ebobisse fired a shot that sailed high and wide.
Williams would strike first at the 8:52 mark, when Ebobisse found User Kushaina streaking towards the goal, who then beat senior goalie Mac Church.
The Polar Bears responded in the 15th minute on Bascom's goal.
The Polar Bears had two chances in the 29th minute when Bascom found freshman Keegan Ross who fired a shot that was blocked.
Senior Chris Matejka was able to chase down the ball off of the block and fired a shot that was saved by Ephs goalkeeper Than Finan.
A turnover over by ONU led to a shot by Noah Cadet of Williams, but Church was able to make the save.
Williams also found themselves on the attack just before the half, but an attempt by Cadet was blocked by senior defender Austin Windsor.
ONU came out on the attack in the second half and took a 2-1 lead at the 51:43 mark, when Bascom passed the ball through the defense and found junior Jeremy Barnes who beat the goalie.
Williams looked to respond right back when Michael Madding fired a shot, but Church made a nice diving stop.
Bascom was then fouled in the box in the 66th minute.
Windsor took the free kick from inside the 18-yard box and his first shot was blocked and his second shot was also stopped by the Ephs defense.
Williams continued to attack and fired a shot in the 72nd minute that Church was able to save.
Windsor added a huge insurance goal at the 77:56 mark.
Matejka sent a corner kick short and Windsor drilled it into the lower left corner of the net from just outside the box.
The Ephs had a chance a minute later when Matt Ratajczak fired a shot from about seven yards out, but missed it high.
The Ephs battled back and scored a goal at the 88:03 mark, when Peter Christman put it in the net off of a blocked free kick attempt.
Williams tried to mount another scoring chance, but the Polar Bear defense was able to knock away the Ephs chances.
"Williams is a great team," Ridenour added. " They kept coming forward and attacking towards the end. They just kept on battling and we did a nice job stopping their attacks in the closing moments."
Church made six saves on the afternoon and moves to 25-2 on the year.
Finan made eight saves for the Ephs and fell to 16-2-4.
Williams held the advantage in shots by a 23-16 margin, but the Polar Bears took 12 shots on goal compared to eight for the Ephs.
"We are enjoying this one," Ridenour said. "We here are excited to be back here and is something that this program has always talked about. We are going to savor this moment."