Haffner’s goal locks in historic season and trophy for Men’s Soccer’s 2021 spring campaign 

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JCU Sports Information

The John Carroll University Men’s Soccer Team celebrates after winning the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship against Marietta at Don Shula Stadium on Sunday, April 18, 2021.

Anna Meyer, Sports Editor

History was broken on Sunday, April 18, after the top-seeded John Carroll University Men’s Soccer team, known as the “Wenzler’s Warriors,” closed out their 2021 season on a high note with a 1-0 win in the final game of the season against the second-seeded Marietta Pioneers at Don Shula Stadium in University Heights. 

The win resulted in the Blue Streaks claiming a three-peat as Ohio Athletic Conference Champions and breaking records with their only undefeated season in the history of the program. John Carroll finished with a 10-0 mark for the season.

John Carroll was led by Head Coach Hector Marinaro, who captured his fifth OAC Championship in a season that was dedicated to the former John Carroll Sports Information Director, Chris Wenzler, who passed away in June after a hard-fought battle with cancer. 

“Our coaches always asked us, ‘Why are we doing this? What’s our why?’ This is the exact reason we come out here every single day,” team captain William Turrittin said, while wearing a “CW” armband to honor the late Wenzler. “We all battled, day-in and day-out. We fought for each other. It’s hard to describe what everyone sacrificed this season. Without Wenzler, I am not sure we would have gotten it done. I know he’s watching over us, so happy for us.”

William Turrittin after winning the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship against Marietta at Don Shula Stadium on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Kyle Kelly)

The star performer for the Blue Streaks was Hayden Haffner, a freshman starter playing in his first career championship game. Haffner started in all 10 games of the season for the Blue Streaks, but came into the OAC Championship hungry for his first collegiate goal. 

“I thought before the game how awesome it would be to score the game-winning goal my freshman year,” noted Haffner with a smile on his face. “I worked the whole game to accomplish that goal.”

After coming out of the locker room from halftime, Haffner netted his first collegiate goal at the 48:05 mark of the game off a ball fed from senior captain  Turrittin.

Haffner’s goal secured a historic season that came with plenty of adversity. 

Hayden Haffner celebrates after scoring the lone goal in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship against Marietta at Don Shula Stadium on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Carmen Ferrante)

“It feels awesome. We worked all season for this and started off a strong 9-0,” said the hero of the game, Haffner. “We just had to get the job done and finish it off 10-0, and we did it.”

Connor Robinson held down the furthest point of the backline as the goalkeeper, recording two saves on the day and his sixth shutout of the season. Robinson was helped by the defensive protection that recorded a clean sheet, which was led by Stephen Schutt, the pivotal defender for the Blue Streaks. 

“Defensively, this whole year has been absolutely incredible with all of the makeshift going on,” said Turrittin. “Stephen Schutt has been in all different positions, and we have started three freshmen in the defensive position. I give so much credit to them because they make our job so much easier. They are our security blanket with Connor Robinson being a vocal influencer and Schutt leading the troops in front of Robinson.”

Four Blue Streaks found themselves a spot on the 2021 OAC All-Tournament Team for their play throughout the tournament. The players who received the accolades were Benjamin Hryszko, Schutt, Turrittin and Robinson

Stephen Schutt after winning the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship against Marietta at Don Shula Stadium on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (JCU Sports Information)

The Blue Streaks will have a quick turnaround before they begin their next conquest during the fall 2021 season.

“The future is bright for this program, and the seniors are all coming back for the fall,” said Marinaro. “We will celebrate this one right now, and in a couple of months, get back at it for the fall season.

“They are our leaders on the field, off the field, emotionally and spiritually,” he continued. “They led this team, and they have done a great job all year long. I felt they weren’t taking control of the game, but they came out in the second half with the right attitude. We got a good goal — killed the game by possessing the ball. I am really proud of this senior class.”

The Blue and Gold senior class is made up of Michael Adelman, Max Hess, Will Grubbs, Hryszko, Jared Ianiro, Schutt and Turrittin

Turrittin confirmed that all the seniors will come back in fall 2021 for their fifth year due to the extra eligibility earned from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Turrittin said, “We are not done yet. Obviously, all of us seniors are going to come back for our fifth year. This is a step in the right direction for the end goal of us of going to the NCAA National Championship, but we have to take care of some things beforehand.”