DELAWARE, Ohio - The Prairie Fire men's soccer team fell to No. 6 Ohio Wesleyan 1-0 on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Battling Bishops were ranked second in the nation by d3soccer.com heading into their conference tournament, but dropped to sixth after losing to Denison last week. Ohio Wesleyan has two Division III national championships to their credit (1998 and 2011) and is making their 42nd NCAA Division III Tournament appearance.
The first half was fairly uneventful, with the Battling Bishops outshooting Knox 6-2. Neither team managed a shot on goal and the game remained scoreless heading into halftime.
Ohio Wesleyan came out more aggressive in the second half and reeled off 11 total shots, including five on goal. They finally put on in the back of the net with less than two minutes left to play in regulation when Knox picked up a foul just outside the box and the Battling Bishops scored on the ensuing free kick. The Prairie Fire shot three times in the second half, but did not get a shot on goal.
The men's soccer team returns to the NCAA Tournament for their second time in the last three seasons. The Prairie Fire fell to Luther 1-0 in overtime in their previous trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2018.
Knox won the Midwest Conference Tournament after finishing the regular-season as League champions as well. Knox allowed only six goals in conference all season while finishing 7-1 in league play. 2021 was the men's third regular-season MWC Championship in the last four seasons, and sixth overall. It was also the eighth consecutive MWC Tournament appearance for the Prairie Fire. The team has lost only three regular-season conference games over the past five seasons, and won the MWC Tournament in 2018.
"We battled all year long and it came down to the wire again," said head coach Brian O'Connor. "We held a very good team to a single goal and they didn't score until the very end. I am proud of the fight our guys put up this game and all year."