ADA, Ohio – The Wilmington College men’s soccer team avenged a regular season defeat with a dramatic 2-1 double overtime victory over top-seeded Ohio Northern University in an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Tournament semifinal on Thursday afternoon.
The Fightin’ Quakers, the No. 4 seed for the tournament, will face No. 2 John Carroll University, which beat Otterbein University 2-1 in double overtime in the other semifinal, in the OAC Tournament title game.
Fifth-year senior Yusef Muqtadir got things started with two shots that were blocked in the first three minutes, but just like the regular season matchup, the Polar Bears struck first. Levi King and Ryan Parker connected with Bryan Kern who beat WC goalkeeper Thomas Grimes in the sixth minute. Freshman Gio Alvarez nearly tied the game 28th minute, but his effort form close range slipped just outside the near post. The Quakers would hold a slight 7-6 edge in shots in the first 45 minutes, but went into the locker room trailing by a goal.
Wilmington didn’t allow a shot for the first 25 minutes, and its offense fed off the defensive performance. In the 69th minute, the Quakers earned a free kick deep in ONU territory. Grant Murray flung a ball into the box that found the foot of Sakarias Bahamondez, who flicked it past Polar Bear keeper Lucas Hickey for his second goal in as many games. The visitors nearly ended it in regulation in the 84th minute when Murray was fed a square pass just inside the box. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native fired a shot with his left foot, but it was saved by a sliding Hickey.
Both teams took one shot in the first overtime, but Elorm Dogbey’s effort was blocked and Kern’s attempt for a second goal was wide. In the second overtime, freshman Kyle Jordan nearly broke the deadlock with a header in the 105th minute, but it too went just wide. Just like the team, Jordan had a chance at redemption as just over a minute later, the freshman from Fisco, Texas, broke through the middle of the ONU defense and buried the go-ahead goal, the first of his collegiate career. Courtesy of the NCAA’s new overtime rules (no more golden goal), the Polar Bears had several minutes to try and tie the game. The hosts fired two shots, but one was saved by Grimes and the other was wide.
Wilmington held a 15-11 shots advantage, though both teams had exactly four shots on goal. Both teams also earned five corner kicks. Grimes improved to 11-4-2 on the season by stopped the final three shots on goal he faced while Hickey took his first loss for the year and is now 6-1-1. Dogbey fired a Quaker-best four shots while Kern and Aaron Shelton each took three for the Polar Bears.
ONU, ranked No. 11 in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Top 25 Poll and No. 2 in Region VII in the final regional rankings stands at 13-3-3 after the defeat, but is in good position to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament when the field is revealed on Monday.
Wilmington, which beat Ohio Northern for the first time in the OAC Tournament, improves to 12-5-2 and advanced to the OAC Tournament title game for the first time since 2006. The OAC Tournament championship game will be played Saturday in University Heights, Ohio, with a kickoff time to be announced soon.