Boiling Springs, N.C. - The Gardner-Webb men's soccer team came up just one match
short of winning the program's second conference championship and first-ever
Big South Championship, as the Runnin' Bulldogs' season came to an end with a
loss to Liberty in the conference championship title game.
The Runnin' Bulldogs, which posted a 9-8-4 overall record
and earned the No. 2 seed in the Big South Championship Tournament with a 5-3-1
conference regular season record, recorded their highest finish in the Big
South Conference standings since joining the League in 2008, taking
GWU also posted a number of key wins en route to their first
nine win season since 2006, as the Runnin' Bulldogs defeated High Point for the
first time in the program's history, posted a win at Patchin Field and VMI for
the first-time ever and defeated a nationally ranked opponent in No. 20 VCU at
the UAB "Soccer For a Cure" Classic in Birmingham, Alabama.
Along with the strong season came a number of individual
postseason awards, as the Runnin' Bulldogs had six different players earn Big
South Conference postseason honors.
Redshirt-junior and captain Jon Ole Reinhardsen, who also earned a spot
on the NCCSIA Men's Soccer University Division All-State Team, was named to the
Big South All-Conference First-Team.
GWU's John Sargent, Jovan Ivanovich and Chris Davis, who was also named
to the Big South All-Academic Team, all earned spots on the All-Conference Second-Team,
while freshmen Denzel Clarke and Eric Yeager were both named to the
All-Freshman Team. Redshirt-senior
Eric Asanin-Miroux and goalkeeper Scott Krotee joined Reinhardsen as the
representatives for GWU on the Big South Championship All-Tournament Team.
The Runnin' Bulldogs did it as a team in 2011, as 11
different players accounted for at least one goal, while 13 different players
tallied at least one assist overall.
The GWU defense was solid throughout the season, as the Runnin' Bulldogs
recorded seven shutouts on the year, four wins and three draws, and held their
opponents to an average of 1.22 goals per match.
Individually, Krotee's 76 saves on the season was not only a
season-high, but was also the most saves in a single-season by a GWU goalkeeper
since current Associate Head Coach Tyler Kettering totaled 116 saves back in
2006. The redshirt-junior also posted a 1.10 goals against average, which ranks
second overall in GWU men's soccer single-season history, while his six
shutouts placed him in a tie for third with Kettering (2006) and Greg Clark
(1990) in GWU history for the most shutouts in a single-season.
The season got off to a great start as the Runnin' Bulldogs
blanked Brevard College 3-0 at home in the season opener, GWU's only home
contest for the first month of the season.
After a neutral site loss to Wofford and back-to-back
double-overtime draws with Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, the Runnin'
Bulldogs suffered a loss at Davidson to fall to 1-2-2 overall.
Halfway through an 11-match road trip, the Runnin' Bulldogs
competed at the UAB "Soccer For a Cure" Classic, posting the program's
first-ever wins over UW-Milwaukee and No. 20 VCU to take second-place at the
Sitting at 3-2-2 overall, Gardner-Webb opened up conference
play with a loss at No. 25 Coastal Carolina, in which the Runnin' Bulldogs were
in the contest for all 90 minutes.
The loss was the first of four straight defeats, as GWU
suffered losses at UNC Greensboro, at Clemson and at Campbell to fall to 3-6-2
overall and 0-2 in Big South play.
However, the Runnin' Bulldogs wrapped up their month long
road trip with a 2-1 win at Presbyterian, which was not only GWU's first
conference win of the season, but the win also snapped a four-game losing
streak and jump started a five-match winning streak.
In their first home match since the season opener in August,
the Runnin' Bulldogs defeated Liberty, 3-1, and then traveled up to Lexington,
Va. to down VMI for the first time at Patchin Field, 2-1.
With back-to-back home conference wins over UNC Asheville
and High Point the following week, the Runnin' Bulldogs wrapped up the regular
season with a scoreless double-overtime draw at Radford and a 1-0 loss at home
to Winthrop on Senior Night to finish the regular season slate at 8-7-3 and
second in the Big South Conference at 5-3-1 overall.
With the No. 2 seed, the Runnin' Bulldogs drew the Winthrop
Eagles in the first round of the Big South Championship Tournament, hosted at
Greene-Harbison Field on the campus of Gardner-Webb University. Gardner-Webb avenged a regular season
loss to the Eagles, defeated Winthrop 2-1 to advance to the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Gardner-Webb battled High Point to a 0-0
draw after 110 minutes of play, sending the match to a penalty kick shootout.
The Runnin' Bulldogs got a huge stop from Krotee in goal and made good on all
but one of their five attempts to advance past High Point, 4-3, and to the
In front of perhaps the largest crowd ever to see a men's
soccer match at Greene-Harbison Field, the Runnin' Bulldogs fell behind early
to the Liberty Flames and just could not overcome the early deficit, suffering
a 3-1 loss to Liberty in the championship match.
Despite the loss and the graduation of seniors
Asanin-Miroux, Richie Wall, Kevin Nolan and Julian Morris, Head Coach Tony
Setzer's words after the championship match not only sums up the 2011 season,
but in perspective the outlook of the men's soccer program for years to come: "It's
been a good year for us and we look forward to taking more steps forward next