GRANTHAM, Pa. – Two Calvin goals in a span of 1:09 in the second half was the turning point of a back-and-forth game and opened up the floodgates for the Knights, as Franklin & Marshall's No. 14 men's soccer team suffered a heartbreaking 4-1 loss in the NCAA Elite Eight on Saturday evening.
The Diplomats' storybook season came to an end with a 15-4-4 record while the No. 16 Knights (22-2) moved on to the Final Four.
A driving rain that turned to sleet at times, and a slick field making it difficult for both sides to gain traction, did little to hold back an impressive offensive display that saw all five goals scored in the final half.
Just three minutes into the second frame of a scoreless contest, Ugo Okolie split a pair of defenders in Calvin's offensive third and slipped a short pass to Paul McWhirter in the box, who fired a shot into the upper section of the net to tally the first goal of the game and give F&M a 1-0 edge.
However, the Knights followed with a rapid succession of back-to-back goals in the 60th and 62nd minutes to take the advantage for good. Calvin opened with a shot into the 18-yard box that made its way past goalkeeper Dave Reingold on the right side of the net and followed with a Bobby McCraw rocket from 20 yards out.
Jacob Lyon added to the Knights' lead in the 71st minute when a Matt Hinds corner to the far post was headed into the bottom right of the net, before following with another goal just three minutes later to take a decisive three-score edge and close out the offensive attack.
Despite the uneven final score, it was the Diplomats who dominated offensively in the opening half. Midway through the frame, F&M had its first legitimate scoring chance when Okolie threaded a beautiful through pass in the box that was just out of reach of a cutting Robert Maze, going out of bounds.
Both teams had a plethora of scoring opportunities in a wild end to the half, but neither side was able to connect heading into halftime.
Shots favored the Diplomats by a 12-7 margin through the first 45 minutes while Calvin led at 15-11 in the second half. F&M controlled corners at 10-4, including a 5-0 advantage in the first.
Okolie threatened throughout the night and paced both teams with six shots, followed by a trio of F&M players with three each.
Reingold (15-4-4) battled through the tough conditions and recorded some impressive saves, finishing with seven in the game. His counterpart Nate Van Ryn (22-2) picked up 12 saves to earn the win.
F&M has little reason to hang its head after another incredible season that saw the Diplomats become one of just five teams in the nation to advance to four-straight NCAA Sweet 16's and the program's first Elite Eight appearance since 2013.