The Oglethorpe men's soccer team fought valiantly over 110 minutes Sunday afternoon at the SAA Men's Soccer Championship final, twice coming back from a goal down to level the score as the game finished tied 2-2 after two periods of extra time. The visiting Centre Colonels won the penalty shootout, however, notching goals on all five of their spot kicks to defeat the Stormy Petrels 5-3 and leave Oglethorpe waiting to see if they'll receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship.
Centre converted on their first four spot kicks in the shootout, putting the onus on the Petrels to match. The home side converted on their first three as junior forward Gabriel Alvarez, freshman forward Affonso Temporal and senior midfielder Topher Marshall all put shots past Centre goalkeeper Bailey Spade. Junior midfielder Josh Bronstorph put his shot wide in the fourth round, though, giving the Colonels a chance to clinch the championship on the fifth kick. Michael Vogt put his shot low and to the right of Oglethorpe junior goalkeeper Scott Zoino. Zoino guessed right and got a hand to it, but he couldn't keep it out.
It was the Colonels getting off to a fast start in regulation as they got a goal from Jacob Haddad to give themselves a 1-0 lead in just the third minute. They held that advantage over the next 42 minutes, but the Petrels put in an equalizer in the waning moments of the first half. Junior defender Bentley Skinner went forward into the box on an attacking run and picked up a loose ball, firing it past Spade to put his team level, 1-1, just 40 seconds before the halftime whistle.
The Colonels went ahead again in the 62nd minute. The Petrels couldn't get a long throw-in into the box cleared, and Alexander Garuba pounced on a loose ball to rifle a shot past Zoino to make it 2-1.
Oglethorpe had an answer for that, as well. Less then seven minutes later, senior forward Adam Sole sent an outstanding low cross to the near post. Spade got a hand to it to keep it away from an oncoming Petrel attacker, but he couldn't parry it out for a corner kick. Temporal jumped on it and slid it into the net to make it 2-2.
Over the extra 20 minutes, both teams had chances to nab a golden goal and win the game. In the first extra period, Zoino and Spade made dueling saves in the first couple of minutes. Zoino had to make a stop on a header in the 97th minute and Spade came up big on a shot from Alvarez in the 99th. Grodhaus forced a save in the second extra period, but that was the only shot on goal either team would have over those 10 minutes.
Zoino finished with six saves for the contest, three of them coming in the second half and two in extra time. Alvarez fired seven shots over the course of the game and put six on goal.
The two teams played an even game in terms of shot count. The Petrels outshot Centre 21-20 overall, including a 13-8 margin in shots on goal. Centre took five corner kicks to Oglethorpe's two.
The Petrels now sit at 13-2-1 on the season officially, with Sunday's game going in the books as a tie. They extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games, as well, but Centre nabbed the SAA's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with their shootout win. That means the Petrels will have to wait to see if they'll receive one of the 19 general at-large berths into the 62-team tournament. (There are 20 total at-large berths, but one is held for independents and teams whose conferences don't have automatic bids).
The NCAA selection show will take place at 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon, and can be viewed on NCAA.com. The Division III men's soccer committee will release their 62-team field at that time, and the Petrels will find out if they made the tournament field and, if so, who they'll play and where.