Wheaton (Ill.) punches ticket to NCAA Tournament with 2-1 OT victory over Carthage
Wheaton, Ill.- The Wheaton College men's soccer team punched its return ticket to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night with a 2-1 overtime victory over Carthage. The victory gives Wheaton (16-3-2) its second consecutive CCIW Tournament Championship and the conference's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite having the field of play turned against them in the early minutes by a very aggressive Carthage (13-7-1) team, Wheaton was able to get on the board first early in the first half. Stephen Golz played through a pair of defenders in a run down the right side in the 11th minute and rolled a pass to the top of the box to Adam Blackman who controlled with a touch and then blasted a strong left-footed shot past a diving save attempt by Nick Huftalin and into the net to give Wheaton a 1-0 lead. Huftaline made two saves and allowed two goals.
Carthage answered ten minutes later with an attack building off the right side of the field. A well played cross of the right edge of the box by Taylor Pignataro found the head of Michael Dombrowski whose header beat Derek Babb to equal the score at 1-1. Babb made three saves and allowed just the one goal.
The rest of the half was played without an aggressor but with with a wide-open pace. Wheaton had a perfect opportunity to extend its lead in the final minute of the half when Mitchell Paur beat a Carthage defender down the left side and his crossing pass found Chad Musgraves in front of an open net but Musgraves' shot hit off the crossbar and sailed high to keep the game tied at halftime.
The Red Men looked to strike first in the opening minutes of the second half and Babb put his skills on display to keep the game tied. In the 49th minute, Babb was challenged once again by Dombrowski but made a diving save of the initial shot before recovering to make a second save, this time of Mike Heika's shot. The second save bounced loose to Dombrowski yet again who rattled the woodwork with a thundering shot off the crossbar that bounded away.
Neither team would threaten for the remainder of the half and the game headed to overtime tied at 1. In the overtime, the Thunder built their possession off a looseball at midfield. Wheaton quickly found the feet of Stephen Golz in the middle of the field and Golz swung the play to the left side of the field for Noah Anthony. Anthony possessed with a quick touch before letting loose a laser line drive shot from 30 yards out that found the back of the net to provide the game-winning goal just three minutes and 20 seconds into the overtime period.
Wheaton outshot the Red Men 16-7 in the match and held a 4-3 ege in corner kicks.