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November 11, 2017

Stormy Petrels Earn First-Ever NCAA Tournament Win, Defeat North Carolina Wesleyan 5-2

The Oglethorpe men's soccer team won the first NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship game in their history Saturday, defeating the North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishops 5-2 in Lexington, Virginia, to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Petrels used braces from both junior forward Devon Patterson and sophomore midfielder Adam Sole, and a pair of assists from senior defender Jordan Locke, to pull away from the Battling Bishops.

After a brief period of North Carolina Wesleyan pressure at the outset, it was all Petrels for the remainder of the opening half. They went on an extended run of pressure, which featured a shot from junior midfielder Jon Guy that Bishop goalkeeper Jordan Williams made a fantastic save on and a couple of shots just wide from sophomore forward Gabriel Alvarez. They finally broke through in the 20th minute when a corner kick led to a loose ball in the North Carolina Wesleyan box. Locke fired a shot that Williams saved, but Patterson followed up with the first goal in Oglethorpe's NCAA Championship history. 

Patterson followed up 12 minutes later with his second goal of the game. Locked sent in a long ball from midfield and Patterson made an outstanding play to knock the ball into the back of the net and give Oglethorpe a 2-0 lead. The Petrels maintained that advantage into the halftime break, outshooting North Carolina Wesleyan 10-5 in the opening half, including a 4-1 count in shots on goal.

The second half started out even better for Oglethorpe, as Alvarez got behind the defense on a long run into the box and won a penalty kick. He stepped up to take the kick himself and buried it past Williams to give Oglethorpe a seemingly dominant 3-0 lead in the 49th minute.

The Battling Bishops started throwing numbers forward, though, and were able to fight their way back into the game. They picked up their first goal in the 55th minute, then put themselves right back in the contest when they won a penalty kick of their own in the 63rd minute. North Carolina Wesleyan's Baboucarr Njie tallied his second goal of the game on the spot kick, making the score 3-2.

North Carolina Wesleyan continued to push forward, now in search of an equalizer. They outshot the Petrels 11-8 over the course of the second half and forced Oglethorpe senior goalkeeper Luke Whelan to make six saves on the day. 

The game turned back in Oglethorpe's favor in the 70th minute, though. Kobi Boompong was red carded at that point for North Carolina Wesleyan, reducing them to 10 men. One minute later, senior defender Josh Hoeft sent in a cross from the right-hand side that Sole got on the end of and hammered into the back of the net, giving the Petrels their two-goal lead back. They regained control of the contest at that point, as North Carolina Wesleyan did not get a quality chance for the remainder of the contest. Whelan was forced to make one more save in the 79th minute.

Oglethorpe added a fifth goal for good measure, as Sole added his second goal of the contest in the 86th minute off an assist from Alvarez. Sole directed a header off the post and into the back of the net, giving the Petrels the 5-2 lead they would finish the game with.

North Carolina Wesleyan's Walid Yacoubou was red-carded in the 90th minute, leaving the Battling Bishops with nine men for the game's final 38 seconds.

For the game, the Petrels outshot the Bishops 18-16 overall and 10-8 on goal. Oglethorpe also took five corner kicks to three for North Carolina Wesleyan. 

"North Carolina Wesleyan is a very good team," said Oglethorpe head coach Jon Akin. "They won the USA South and they won 15 games during the year, so we knew they were going to be tough. We were fortunate to get a goal early and build a big lead early in the second half. We gave up a couple goals and they put a lot of numbers forward. The game got very hectic there in the middle of the second half, but I thought we responded well and put the game away. It's good to get our first NCAA tournament win. We've been fighting to get back to this point for awhile now, and now that we're here, we want to make the most of it. We think we're capable of going further, but we'll take it one game at a time and get ready for tomorrow."

The 17-2-1 Petrels will take on Washington and Lee in the NCAA tournament second round on Sunday in Lexington. The game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. The Generals took down Mary Washington 2-0 in the pod's other first-round matchup on Saturday.

This was Oglethorpe's second NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship contest in history, and their first since 2011. The Petrels fell 3-0 to Texas-Tyler in that contest.

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