Heading to nationals … one foot and kick at a time
By Cory Furman and Lyle Miller
For a team that seemed to have destiny on its side, the Nov. 15 first-round competition during the 2006 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championships in Daytona, Fla., simply did not add up.
The script, as becoming the norm for the Goshen College men’s soccer team, was fully intact: There was an early deficit to overcome. The team overcame it. There was precise change of momentum in the game. The Leafs had it. And there was the glorious conclusion, ending with yet another spirited jaunt towards the sidelines, Goshen players beaming with pride and excitement. This is where destiny took a leave of absence.
Despite a spirited comeback and subsequent dominant play that yielded a 2-2 tie score after regulation and a pair of overtimes against 14th-seeded Park University in the first round of the tournament, Goshen could not capitalize on the ensuing penalty-kick (PK) shootout, suffering a 3-1 loss and ending the team’s season in heartbreaking fashion. After PKs helped the Leafs advance in post-season play on two different occasions, the team’s third shootout of the year was anything but the charm. The result marked Goshen’s third season in the last four years to end on the wrong side of a penalty-kick decision.
Playing in front of a boisterous throng of Leafs’ supporters that made the trip to central Florida, Goshen’s four-year seniors concluded brilliant careers with 52 total wins, the second-highest total in program history. Craig Welscott (Greenbush, Mich.) left as the program’s all-time leader in goalkeeper shutouts, while Joel Miller (Elkhart, Ind.) is the only player in school history to achieve a conference player of the year honor on three different occasions.
With three runners competing for the first time in school history in the Nov. 18 NAIA Women’s Cross Country National Championships in Louisville, Ky., things were looking pretty good for the Goshen College women’s program before the event even started. About 20 minutes later, the view was even better.
Senior Petrana Petkova from Bulgaria captured her third NAIA All-American honor in a Goshen uniform — and fourth overall — becoming the school’s first-ever three-time NAIA All-American in the sport, male or female.
Petkova finished the race in a time of 18:34.30, good for 20th place — the top 30 runners acquire All-American status. Senior Laura Herr (Linden, Wis.) and sophomore Laura Harnish (Flanagan, Ill.) joined Petkova at the event, finishing 111th and 154th, respectively. With Petkova no stranger to the national level – She previously finished 27th, 12th and 21st – the event was the first for both Herr and Harnish, who finished in clips of 19:39.25 and 19:58.30, respectively.
For Petkova, the All-American finish was her fourth in cross country and 11th overall – the most in school history – as the Bulgaria native has claimed three such honors in indoor track and four in outdoor track competitions. She is the first Goshen College athlete, male or female, to have accomplished such a feat.