Senior Connor Gilmour scored his NCAA-leading 12th goal of the season with just 7:27 left to play to give the Cedarville men’s soccer team a 2-1 victory over visiting Mercyhurst University Wednesday night.
The team found out Sept. 29 that it was ranked No. 24 in the nation in Division II men’s soccer. This is the team’s first time in the rankings since joining Division II in 2012.
The Yellow Jackets controlled much of the first half, but Mercyhurst’s bend-but-don’t-break defense let the Jackets get close, but prevented them from getting clean looks at the net. With 2:42 left in the half, junior midfielder Joel Twinem scored his first goal of the season. Sophomore forward Kyle Nikerle found Twinem cutting to the back post and Twinem easily tapped in Nikerle’s cross to give Cedarville a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
Mercyhurst started the second half much more aggressively than they had the first, but the Jackets’ defense held, and soon Cedarville was back on the offensive. Again, though, the Jackets couldn’t quite finish on their offensive runs. Mercyhurst, on the other hand, took advantage of a questionable foul call outside Cedarville’s box, evening the score with 24:11 left to play. Cedarville goalkeeper Paulo Pinto, a junior, blocked the direct kick off the crossbar, but Mercyhurst controlled the rebound quickly and scored while Pinto was still on the ground from his initial diving save.
Not wanting to settle for a tie, Cedarville resumed their aggressive play. Several chances later, Cedarville set up for a corner kick with less than eight minutes remaining. Junior forward Jon Brown headed the kick to Gilmour, who flipped onto his back and bicycle kicked the ball into the back of the net. The defense held for the remainder of the game to seal the victory for the Yellow Jackets.
Gilmour’s 12th goal of the season breaks a tie with two other players for most in NCAA Division II. Gilmour is on pace to surpass 20 goals this season, a feat only achieved six times in Cedarville history, most recently in 2001.
The Yellow Jackets (8-1-1), 5-0-0 in the GMAC, resume conference play 6 p.m. Saturday Oct. 3, when they host Alderson Broaddus for this year’s homecoming game. The Cedarville women host Rio Grande Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Tyler Greenwood is a junior mechanical engineering major and sports writer for Cedars.