Irving, Texas – The second-ranked Trinity men's soccer team captured the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship by routing the University of Dallas (TX) 4-0 on Sunday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Anthony Mazur)
A highly-anticipated rubber match between the top two teams in the SCAC this season was controlled by the Tigers throughout.
These two teams needed overtime in both regular season meetings to decide the victor, but today Trinity notched two goals in each period to run away with the win in the conference tournament finale.
Dallas did manage to take the first shot of the game, but it was blocked, and the Crusaders didn't get a clean shot off until after the Tigers had taken a 2-0 lead.
Trinity hit the cross bar on a shot in the 17th minute, which led to a foul in the box by Dallas. Christian Sakshaug connected on a penalty kick for the second straight game to put the Tigers out in front.
Dallas made a push in the 22nd minute, but defender Kellen Reid cleared the ball with a long pass deep into the Trinity offensive third. Jacob Hallenberger found the end of that pass, then slipped around the Dallas goalkeeper to find the back of the net.
The Crusaders tried to answer after that, stringing together a pair of shots on goal. Goalie McCaleb Taylor saved the first, and the Tigers got a team save on the second to keep Dallas off the board.
Trinity had a 12-5 advantage in shots over the first 45 minutes, and despite a 12-11 edge for Dallas in the second period, Tiger goalkeeper McCaleb Taylor recorded five second-half saves to preserve the shutout.
Taylor's first save of the second half came in the first 15 minutes, then he had four more stops in the final 10:37 of the game.
After a deflected ball by the Dallas defense found its way to Jack Braley, he slipped a pass in to Austin Michaelis with less than 15 minutes to play, and Michaelis didn't disappoint to put Trinity up 3-0.
Trinity improved to 20-1-0 with its 15th consecutive victory, while Dallas fell to 13-4-2 after the loss in its first conference tournament championship appearance.
This is the sixth consecutive SCAC Championship for the Tigers, as well as the 15th in the last 16 years. Trinity also receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs.
The Tigers suffered an overtime home loss to the Crusaders in the first meeting of the year, but Trinity evened the series with an overtime win on the road later in the season.
McCaleb Taylor was named the SCAC Tournament Defensive MVP after recording a career-best six saves and his first career solo shutout in his first career start at goalkeeper for the Tigers.
Taylor was called into action after Trinity's usual starter was issued a red card during the semifinals and had to miss today's game.
Christian Sakshaug's penalty kick game-winner was his 10th goal of the season and the 21st of his career. His first game-winner of the season also secured SCAC Tournament Offensive MVP honors for the junior All-American.
Jacob Hallenberger found his eighth goal of the season, and he stands third on the team with 22 total points.
Michaelis netted his team-leading 13th goal of the season, which is also the 29th of his career. His 29 career goals are tied for 14th in school history.
As the league champion, Trinity automatically earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs. The NCAA will announce the full field of competitors on Monday, November 6.