It was a tale of three seasons for the Muhlenberg mens soccer
team, and when the tale ended, the Mules were Centennial Conference
champions. The Mules finished the season 13-6 overall and earned the third
seed in the conference tournament with a 6-3 record in the CC.
Ramirez scored two goals in the CC tournament,
including the game-winner against Swarthmore.
Muhlenberg started the season on fire and climbed as high as 13th
in the nation thanks to a 5-0 start. The Mules struggled through the
middle of the schedule, scoring just eight goals during a 4-5 stretch.
However, Muhlenberg put it together at the right time with a pair of wins
to end the regular season and two more to capture its second Centennial
Conference championship in three years. The Mules tied Johns Hopkins with
five championships apiece since the conference formed in 1993.
The Mules avenged an earlier loss to Gettysburg, shutting out the
fifth seed, 2-0, in the championship game, after a 3-0 blanking of
second-seeded Swarthmore in the semifinals. Senior forward Christopher
King, one of eight seniors on the team, scored the game-winner against
the Bullets and led the conference with 13 goals and 30 points, earning a
spot on the All-CC first team.
Despite getting a home game in the first round of the NCAAs,
Muhlenbergs postseason was cut short as Wesleyan (Conn.) won a 3-2
decision in overtime.
Muhlenbergs season started with a pair of victories against
Claremont and Kings Point at the Dr. Al Tucci Kickoff Classic in
Baltimore. The Mules then went on to defeat Wilkes and Moravian before
opening up the conference schedule with a 4-2 victory over rival Johns
Hopkins, propelling the team to 13th in the nation.
Nine of Kings 19 career goals were game-winners,
including five in 2005 to tie for the conference lead.
The Mules went 4-5 over their next nine, dropping out of the national and
regional rankings. Muhlenberg dropped a pair of one-goal games to
regionally ranked DeSales and Elizabethtown and a pair of conference games
to teams that would not qualify for the postseason, Franklin & Marshall
and Dickinson, and a double-overtime contest at Gettysburg. The Mules
defeated Washington (Md.), McDaniel, Drew and gave Swarthmore its first
conference loss of the season during that stretch.
Muhlenberg finished the regular season with a pair of wins against
Haverford and Ursinus to capture the third seed in the CC tournament. The
offense also started clicking, recording four and three goals,
respectively, in the contests, and setting the team up for its CC
Muhlenberg tied Johns Hopkins for the CC lead with 2.05 goals per
game. The Mules also had the most assists in the conference with 31.
Sophomore midfielder Jonathan Kliewer tied for the conference lead
seven of them. Senior midfielder Jose Ramirez tied for third with
King and senior forward James Henshaw tied for sixth with four.
Smallwood, a four-year starter at back, helped the
Mules hold the opposition to 0.95 goals per game during that stretch.
Senior backs Adam Milberg, Ryan Smallwood and Joseph
Benner led a
defense that came up big when it mattered most. Along with sophomore
goalie Peter Bennett, Muhlenberg allowed just three goals in its
conference games, including the playoffs.
Ramirez and Milberg joined King on the All-CC first team.
Smallwood was named to the second team, while Henshaw received honorable
mention. It was the second consecutive year these five Mules were on the
All-CC team. Muhlenbergs eight seniors led the team to a 26-9-1 CC
and two Centennial championships in their four years.