Alma, Mich. - The Alma College men's soccer 2018 season saw the program make its third trip to the postseason in the past four years. The Scots' season ended in the first-round of the MIAA Tournament on Oct. 27 where Trine University converted a penalty kick in the final minutes to win, 2-1, and advance to the semifinals.
Junior midfielder Noah Canlas (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central) was named Second-Team All-Conference; he finished the season second on the team in points (nine) and goals (four). He was also second in game-winning goals this season (two).
A host of juniors led the Scots in scoring. Forward Kyle Farmer (Greenville, Mich. / Greenville) was the leader with six, while midfielders Torsten Holland (Okemos, Mich. / Haslett) and Tanner Parrett (Muskegon, Mich. / Mona Shores) contributed with two goals and one goal respectively. Sophomore midfielder Nick Stander (Macomb Twp, Mich. / Dakota) inserted himself among the team's best with two goals, including one in the team's postseason 2-1 loss to Trine.
Alma ended the year with a 5-11 overall record and a 2-5 conference record. Two of their non-conference wins came against Greenville College and Spalding University who finished with a combined record of 29-9-3. Both of them competed in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Postseason with Greenville taking the league crown. The win against Spalding came at the Bob Allen Classic in Danville, Ky. Canlas, Parrett and senior defender Justin Johnson (Midland, Mich. / Midland) took home All-Tournament Honors.
The Scots started their conference schedule with a pair of 2-1 wins over Olivet College and Albion College. The win against the Britons came at Scotland Yard on Oct. 6. Alma found themselves down 1-0 in the first half until senior forward Sam Swem (Buchanan, Mich. / Buchanan) scored his first career goal. The match would go all the way into the second overtime period when Canlas scored on a breakaway that was set up by freshman midfielder Danten McFate (Haslett, Mich. / Haslett).
In Alma's next match, No. 3 Calvin came to town on Oct. 9 and senior goalkeeper Andrew Reid (Clarkston, Mich. / Clarkston) ended up with a career-high eight saves against the Knights. Reid appeared in six games and started five. Among MIAA goalkeepers who did not lead their team in minutes, Reid had the most saves. His teammate junior goalkeeper Garrison Mast (Grand Haven, Mich. / Grand Haven), started in 11 games for Alma and finished with 81 saves which stands as the most in the conference. Mast's .723 save percentage ranks fourth best in the MIAA. As a team, the Scots ended up with 112 stops, the next best team in the conference is Olivet with 89.
Injuries would fall upon the team throughout the season. Regular starters in Canlas, Mast and senior defender Jake Geary (Novi, Mich. / Novi), junior forward Hebren Hein (Jackson, Mich. / Jackson) and junior midfielder Kyle Costigan (East Tawas, Mich. / Midland) all missed multiple games. Both Canlas and Geary missed the final match of the regular season and the conference playoff.
"We had a season that was riddled by injuries and full of up and down performances," Head Coach Josh Oakley said. "It was extremely hard to find and maintain a consistency when our player personnel changed so often."
Despite losing their final five regular season games, the Scots sustained their playoff position and played a tight game at Trine after falling by four goals to the same team four days earlier. After giving up an early goal to the Thunder, Swem found Stander in the box and the sophomore sent a header into the back of the net to make it a 1-1 game heading into halftime. Both of Trine's goals were scored by conference leader Nooh Aljabaly.
"Through all of the injuries, our team maintained a positive attitude and that's what kept us in the mix through the first round of playoffs," Oakley said. "We had lopsided losses in the last half of the season but continued on into the postseason and scrapped together one of our best games of the year against Trine."
Alma showed its restraint all season with only receiving 11 yellow cards. Currently that ranks second least in the MIAA with Calvin having eight and currently still playing in the NCAA Tournament.
"Our discipline through handling the adversity was as good as any coach could as," Oakley said. "We did not make excuses. I appreciate our players, their families and our coaching staff's endurance through a tough string of games this season."
Overall, thirty percent of the Scots' Div. III regular season opponents ended up making the National Tournament.
The Scots see the graduation of Reid, Johnson, Geary, Swem as well as defender Lucas Foust (Brooklyn, Mich. / Jackson Lumen Christi) and midfielder Alex Martinez (Buchanan, Mich. / Buchanan). For those that were with Alma all four years, they experienced one of the best runs for the program this century.
"We find ourselves in a much different position now that just a few years ago," Oakley said. "The MIAA is getting more competitive by the day in all facets of men's soccer. We must have consistent and implemented goals, plans and strategies on how to keep our program where we want it to be within the league."