The Oglethorpe men's soccer team scored twice in the second half Friday night, including an 88th minute goal from reigning SAA Offensive Player of the Year Topher Marshall, and used those two tallies to erase a 1-0 deficit against Pacific Lutheran in the season opener for both teams at the Sonny Carter Invitational across town at Emory University's Woodruff PE Center.
With the game tied 1-1 in the dying minutes of regulation, the Stormy Petrels won a free kick. Marshall was able to tally off an assist from senior forward Devon Patterson to give the Petrels the victory. Meanwhile, it was sophomore forward Gabriel Alvarez whose effort in the 69th minute led to a game-tying goal. He was fouled in the penalty area, then calmly stepped to the spot and slotted the ball past Pacific Lutheran's R.J. Noll to make it 1-1.
Up until the Alvarez goal, the Petrels had been frustrated for the most part, despite controlling the run of play. Pacific Lutheran put just three shots on goal for the game, but scored against the run of play on their first real chance in the 19th minute.
The Petrels fired 10 shots in the first half, forcing Noll to make saves on four of them. Then, they peppered Noll with five more shots on goal in the opening 23 minutes of the second half. Noll finished with 12 saves, but the Alvarez breakthrough gave the Petrels some much-needed momentum. They continued to pound away, forcing three more saves on eight more shots over the course of the game, but eventually got the late game-winner.
"This was a gritty win for us," said Oglethorpe head coach Jon Akin. "Maybe it wasn't the prettiest game, but I was proud of the way we kept plugging away after falling behind and having things not go our way for the first 68 minutes. Falling behind early could've put us in a bad spot, but we eventually found a way through that wall, if you will, and got the victory."
The Petrels outshot the Lutes 23-6 overall, and 14-3 in shots on goal. Senior goalkeeper Luke Whelan picked up the win with two saves. The Petrels took all eight corner kicks in the game. Alvarez fired five shots and put four of them on target, while Marshall peppered the Pacific Lutheran net with four shots, putting three of them on goal.
Oglethorpe will conclude their stay at the Sonny Carter Invitational on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., when they take on North Carolina Wesleyan. After that, they'll head to Maryland for next weekend's Seahawk Classic, where they'll take on Salisbury and host St. Mary's.
"We've got a quick turnaround, and North Carolina Wesleyan has some very special players, and is coming off a disappointing defeat to Emory today," said Akin. "We've going to have to be very disciplined, but if we can execute the way we know how, we'll have the opportunity to get another win."
Emory defeated North Carolina Wesleyan 3-0 in Friday's opening game. The host Eagles will take on Pacific Lutheran Saturday at approximately 7 p.m., after the conclusion of the Oglethorpe-North Carolina Wesleyan contest. The Petrels and Eagles face off against one another at the Oglethorpe Track and Field on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.