JCU Men’s Soccer team advances to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen after snowy weekend play

The John Carroll Mens Soccer Team after their 2-1 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 15.

John Carroll Sports Information Department

The John Carroll Men’s Soccer Team after their 2-1 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 15.

Ashley McCall, Staff Reporter

John Carroll University Men’s Soccer Head Coach Dejan Mladenovic ‘06 was a sophomore at JCU during the first and only time in school history the soccer team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA DIII Men’s Soccer Tournament in 2003. 


Eighteen years later, Mladenovic is in the commanding seat for the Blue Streaks as they earn a spot in the NCAA DIII Tournament Sweet Sixteen during the 2021 season for the second time in school history. 

John Carroll’s Head Coach Dejan Mladenovic on Sunday, Nov. 14 before their snow filled game against Johns Hopkins. (John Carroll Sports Information Department )

“I told these guys during preseason that they have the ability to be the best team in John Carroll history and they have done just that,” said Mladenovic. “Watching them work through all the adversity they have this season, I can’t say enough about how proud I am. We still have some left in the tank for the coming round.”


In an action packed weekend, the Blue and Gold hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 13, and Sunday, Nov. 14 in University Heights at Don Shula Stadium. 


John Carroll opened up the first round of the tournament, competing against the Bethany College Bison on Saturday. 


Driving from West Virginia, the Bison proved to be a tough competitor for the hosts, but the Blue Streaks were able to overcome the challenge and defeat Bethany 3-1 in an offensive dominated second half. 


Freshmen duo Jack Foht ‘25 and James Hoover ‘25 provided the key to success, as the underclassmen were the two goal scorers in this match up. 


In the first half, Foht checked into the game and immediately revved up the offense, scoring his seventh goal of the season against Bison goalkeeper, Adis Salihovic. 


Foht was the lone goal scorer at halftime as John Carroll remained the leader of a physical battle in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 


It was only five minutes into the second half when the freshmen duo of Foht and Hoover gave the Blue and Gold a two-score lead. 


Foht was able to cross the ball through the box, finding Hoover for a finish in the back of the net as the Blue Streaks led by two and JCU goalkeeper Connor Robinson ‘22 continued to host a shutout game. 


Not even thirty seconds after Hoover’s goal, Foht struck again as he continued his offensive destruction of the Bison defense. 


Bethany was able to tally one goal against Connor Gynn ‘22 as he made his first career NCAA Tournament appearance, but by then, John Carroll had already locked up the victory. 


After the Blue and Gold’s conquest on Saturday, the team waited to see their opponent for the second round on Sunday. 


On Saturday afternoon, Johns Hopkins defeated the Nittany Lions in a 2-1 decision, making for a snowy Sunday “battle of the Johns” in the second round game of the NCAA Tournament. 


As weather conditions delayed the game’s start, the Blue Streaks knew they were in for a tough battle against the Blue Jays. 

The John Carroll Men’s Soccer team right before their game on Sunday, Nov. 14. (John Carroll Sports Information Department)

As the intensity was kicked up between the two teams, John Carroll was called for a foul in the box inside the 20 minute mark of the first half. 


The Blue Jays’ Liam Creedon faced off against Robinson for the penalty shot, as Robinson stopped Creedon’s initial attempt. Getting possession off of the rebound, Creedon found the back of the net on his second try to give Johns Hopkins the lead early in the game. 


The Blue and Gold were not deterred by this score and outshot the Blue Jays 17-8 as they attempted to earn themselves a way back into the game, but it would take until the second half for the Blue Streaks to finish a shot.


With the momentum swinging in their favor, Hoover sent the ball flying into the box from the left side, finding Ben Hryszko’s head for a score, giving John Carroll the lead by one. 


Hryszko’s point scoring didn’t end there as he then provided the assist to Foht’s right-footed shot into the back of the net, scoring the second goal for the Blue and Gold. 

Freshman Jack Foht competing on Saturday, Nov. 14. Foht scored the game winning goal in the John Carroll victory. (John Carroll Sports Information Department )

With just 20 minutes left in the game after the two scores, the Blue Streak defense held strong and only allowed three shots by the Blue Jays. 


The buzzer sounded and the team celebrated what would be the making of school history as they defeated Johns Hopkins 2-1. 


“I am just really proud of their effort. They never gave up, and they never stopped believing,” said Mladenovic. “As the game went on, I think you could see that belief got stronger, and once we put the first one in the back of the net we knew the second was coming shortly thereafter.”

The Blue and Gold Soccer program celebrating their berth into the NCAA Sweet 16 after their 2-1 victory against Johns Hopkins on Sunday, Nov. 14. (John Carroll Sports Information Department)

With this win, the John Carroll Men’s Soccer team advances to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 1:30 p.m. in Amherst, Massachusetts, against Middlebury College. 


“This team is a family,” said Mladenovic when asked what is special about his team. “It’s not just our program, it’s the sports information department, the athletic department, and the JCU community. This is what it’s all about. It is why John Carroll is such a special place. I’m just proud to be their coach.”