The United States Merchant Marine Academy Mariners (7-8-0, 3-4-0) were upended 3-0 by the Crusaders of Susquehanna University (13-2-0, 5-1-0) in their final match of the 2012 season.
Susquehanna controlled play throughout much of the match as Kings Point, who were battling key injuries, struggled to muster an attack against one of the nation's top teams.
Merchant Marine's best chance of the contest came in the early minutes as sophomore forward Nick Vogel moved towards the Crusader net on a clean breakaway in the fourth minute. Vogel's attempt went just wide as the Mariners came up empty on the opportunity.
Susquehanna took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a goal from junior defender Patrick Fry. The Crusaders extended their lead to 2-0 in the early minutes of the second half as they were able to ice away the victory, eliminating USMMA from playoff contention in the Landmark Conference. This marks the first time since the 1990-91 season that the Mariners finished a campaign with a losing record; winning 10+ games in each of the last 21 seasons.
"Our team worked hard to overcome a number of obstacles this season," said Head Coach Michael Smolens. "We 'ran out of gas' this week. The coaching staff and I have been proud of the effort our guys have put in, and we just didn't have enough to get it done late this season."
Despite the loss, Saturday was a day of celebration at Brooks Stadium, as the Academy honored their four seniors prior to the game. In a pre-game ceremony, each senior, accompanied by their parents, met the coaching staff and Admiral James A. Helis at midfield to receive a plaque and carnation.
Head Coach Michael Smolens had that following to say about each of his seniors and their contribution to the team over the past four years:
Mark Bloom - #16 "An outstanding student-athlete, Mark is the consummate team player and an excellent teammate. In his first three seasons he didn't get as much playing time as he would have liked, but he always worked hard and this season has been a standout starting defender for us. His tremendous work ethic and attitude are fine examples for everyone at the Academy."
Cody Kessler - #18 "Cody's work as a forward has helped him contribute to some of the biggest wins in Kings Point history. He scored the winning goal in the 2011 Landmark Conference Championship which sent the Mariners to their third straight NCAA tournament. In 2010, Cody scored the winning goal in our opening NCAA round match vs. Kean which helped propel the team to the "Elite 8." His tenacity in the attack will certainly be missed."
Ryan Silveira - #12 "A four-year starter and an all-conference performer, Ryan has proven to be one of the focal points of the Mariner attack. A quiet leader, Ryan has selflessly moved to different positions to help the team achieve success during his career. As captain, injuries have plagued his senior season. Ryan has created some of the most important goals in Mariner history. With his brother Brad graduating in '09, next year will be the first season in a long time without a "Silveira" wearing #12 for Kings Point."
Kurt Olsen - #11 "One of the most decorated players in Mariner history, Kurt helped lead USMMA from his central back position over the last four years. A two time Landmark Conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year and two-time All-Region selection, Kurt has been the "cornerstone" of the Mariner defense since his arrival on campus. No one will forget the big goals he scored over his career, including the game-tying penalty kick in the final minute vs. Brockport State and the winning goal on a diving header in overtime, which helped propel the Mariners to the "Elite 8" in 2010. A multi-year captain, a player like Kurt will be tough to replace."
"The soccer class of 2013 has been one of the most successful athletic classes in school history. Since 2009, the Mariner soccer team has compiled a record of 46-14-6 and received three straight NCAA tournament bids; including advancing to the "Elite 8" in 2010. Our four seniors have added a great deal to the program in their years at the Academy. The coaches are very proud of all they have accomplished here, and are confident they will continue to succeed after they leave Kings Point."