ALTOONA, Iowa — Oh so close.
McPherson College’s men’s soccer team was more than halfway home to an upset in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament Saturday as it led No. 3-seed Grand View University 1-0 deep into the second half.
But the Vikings, aided by a penalty kick, rallied for a 2-1 victory to hand Mac its first loss in the last 13 games and end its season.
Alex Ronneburg had given Mac a 1-0 lead in the game’s 31st minute and the Bulldogs tried to protect that precious advantage in the second half.
The Bulldogs did that for the first 26 minutes before the Vikings tied the game on a penalty kick.
Three minutes later the Vikings scored again, then hung on for the victory, as the underdog Bulldogs gave them all they wanted.
"I felt we stuck to our game plan until their penalty kick in the second half," McPherson College coach Doug Quint. "It really rattled us and they did a good job of taking advantage of that. Up until that point, we gave them issues in possession and kept things tight in the back. We battled hard tonight and I am proud of the guys. They left it all out on the field."
The Bulldogs closed the year at 14-4-2, their best record since 2009 when they went undefeated through the KCAC season. Quint is now 126-88-16 in his tenure.
Mac will be hit hard by graduation as eight seniors depart, though Ronneburg, the KCAC Offensive Player of the Year, does return as well as some other key players, including McPherson High product Nick Torres and Co-KCAC Freshman of the Year Tanner Horton.