LEXINGTON, Va. – The Washington and Lee offense came alive in the second half, scoring three goals in a 13-minute span, to defeat Bridgewater, 3-0, and claim the 2018 ODAC Men's Soccer Championship on Sunday afternoon.
The win over the Eagles (11-7-1) marks the fifth conference title in program history, the first since 2015, as the Generals receive the ODAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, the 10-player senior class is now the first in the history of the program to be part of multiple conference championships.
The Generals have now won nine in a row, the longest win streak since 2016, and extended their program record for most consecutive games without a loss to 14.
With the game still scoreless through the first 52 minutes of the game, the Generals (14-3-1) finally dented the scoreboard following a scrum in front of the goal. First-year defender Jack Rawlins (Springfield, Va./Lake Braddock Secondary) got a shot off from close range but had his attempt saved. The rebound came to the foot of senior midfielder Viktor Dolberg (Clovis, Calif./Floyd B. Buchanan) who buried the second-chance opportunity for his third goal of the season.
In the 60th minute, the Generals had another strong possession that was finished off when Dolberg passed from inside the 18 to senior midfielder Dylan Ritch (Mint Hill, N.C./Independence) who was cutting towards goal. Ritch hesitated and then quickly shot between the keeper's legs to double the W&L lead.
Dolberg was at the center of yet another chance in the 66th minute. After receiving a pass at the top of the goal box, Dolberg turned and found sophomore defender Erik Recke (Boyertown, Pa./Boyertown Area) on the right side of the box. Recke had to slide to get to the ball, but put enough behind his shot to get it past the keeper for the game's final goal.
The Eagles had some good looks in the second half as well but two were foiled at the hands of W&L first-year goalkeeper Michael Nyc (Kildeer, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson). On one possession, Bridgewater junior midfielder Leo Alcantara hit a rising shot from about 25 yards out, but was caught by Nyc just under the crossbar. Nyc further preserved the shutout in the 83rd minute when he made a diving stop on a shot from 20 yards out through traffic, punching the ball out of the box.
Dolberg's goal went as the game-winner in the contest as the senior shot four times. He also had the game-winner in W&L's 3-0 win over Bridgewater on Oct. 17. Ritch continued his scoring streak, scoring a goal in his seventh consecutive game to break the program record. He finished with three shots in the game, all on goal.
Recke's score in the 66th minute was his second of the season, as he got two shots off in the match. Sophomore forward Harris Salom (Blacksburg, Va./Blacksburg) also provided a strong offensive punch in the game, shooting three times.
Nyc (13-1-1) stopped all three shots on goal in the contest to post his sixth consecutive shutout and seventh in his last eight starts. He also ran his scoreless streak to 764 straight minutes, lowering his season goals-against average to 0.48, second best in the ODAC.
Five different Bridgewater players took one shot each, with Alcantara's and first-year defender Justin Thorburn's second-half attempts going as the Eagles' strongest scoring chances. Senior goalkeeper Quentin Boric (11-7-1) made four saves in 90 minutes of action in the losing effort.
For the game, the Generals held an 18-5 margin in shots, including a 12-4 edge in second-half attempts, and took eight corner kicks to three for Bridgewater.
The Generals will find out who and where they will play in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, November 5. The NCAA selection show will air at 1:00 pm at NCAA.com.