By Tyler Hofmann
This past Saturday, Kerr Stadium hosted the ODAC championship match between #1 seed Roanoke Maroons and the #2 seed Lynchburg Hornets. The game, played in front of a packed house, was set to be a classic and thrilling matchup between the top two teams in the ODAC. Not only would the winner take home the ODAC championship trophy, the team would also receive a bid for the NCAA tournament, while the loser would go home empty-handed. Riding an eight game winning streak, the Maroons looked for the perfect ending to their incredible season. However, against a strong Lynchburg squad, nothing was guaranteed.
The first half showed just how evenly matched the two teams were. Through 45 minutes of play, only six shots were fired, with Roanoke tallying four, and not a single one found the net. Both teams played incredible defense, yet at times it seemed like Roanoke was playing timid. Despite the shot totals, Lynchburg appeared to be outplaying Roanoke just slightly. However, because of the constant possession changes, neither team was able to garner much momentum, and the first horn sounded with the score tied 0-0.
The second half began and the Maroons immediately took control of the game. Their new intensity surprised the Hornets and Lynchburg was soon faltering against a sustained Maroon offensive. Surprisingly, the Hornets managed to fend off Roanoke’s pressure, and even return with some of their own. After forcing the back across midfield, Lynchburg found itself with a corner kick in the 57th minute. After a perfectly placed kick, Lynchburg managed to squeeze a header right past Cole Sinclair, giving the Hornets the lead. After the goal, the Maroons showed incredible determination by increasing their intensity and never once slowing down.
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts and constant pressure for the remaining 33 minutes, the Maroons could not manage to score a goal to force the game into overtime. Thus, Lynchburg secured the ODAC championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament while the Maroons were ousted from the playoffs. Roanoke played exceptionally well in this contest, and there is truly no blame to be placed. In fact, the loss can be largely attributed to a few bad breaks and near misses that had typically found the net for the Maroons this season.
Despite the heartbreaking loss and the abrupt end to the season, many Maroons achieved incredible individual records during this spectacular season and in their careers as a whole. Marc Dinkel finished the season 5th on the all-time single-season points list with 37. Additionally, in just two years of play, Dinkel recorded 19 assists, good enough for eighth amongst the all-time assists leaders at Roanoke. Roanoke’s favorite keeper, Cole Sinclair, finished his season with the lowest goals against average in the conference with just 0.67 goals per contest. Garrett Eldridge, Dionys Beck, and Marc Dinkel also all received spots on the ODAC All-Tournament team. The entire Maroons corps deserves credit for these individual awards because, as made apparent by the team’s amazing chemistry and success, the entire season was truly a team effort.