Stormy Petrels Ride Late Comeback, Golden Goal to SAA Semifinal Win
Things looked bleak late for the top-seeded Oglethorpe men's soccer team on Friday night as they faced off against the No. 5 seed Berry Vikings in the semifinals of the SAA Men's Soccer Championship at the Oglethorpe Track and Field. The visiting Vikings had just scored a go-ahead goal with six minutes left to take a 2-1 lead over the Stormy Petrels. However, the home side mounted a rousing comeback with goals from sophomore defender Sebastian Carlson and senior midfielder Topher Marshall and turned the tables on the Vikings, winning 3-2 in the first period of extra time and advancing to Sunday's championship game against third-seeded Centre.
After what had been a tense affair throughout, the Vikings got a goal in the 85th minute to put themselves up 2-1 and put the Petrels in serious trouble. Oglethorpe needed a goal fast or they would be eliminated from the SAA tournament and be left to an uncertain fate in regards to the NCAA tournament.
They threw numbers forward and quickly won a corner kick in the 86th minute. The Vikings were able to clear the initial ball out of the box, but only as far as Carlson, who stood about 25 yards from goal. He went for the volley and unleashed a blistering shot that screamed past Berry goalkeeper Carson Oakes and into the upper-left corner of the net, tying the score at 2-2.
That sent the game to extra time, where things started turning in favor of the Petrels. Berry's Britton Ody picked up his second yellow card in the 93rd minute, knocking the Vikings down to 10 men for the remainder of the extra periods. The Petrels continued to throw numbers forward, but were unable to get a shot on target until the 97th minute. Junior midfielder Andrew Grodhaus had a shot acrobatically saved by Oakes, who totaled 11 saves on the night. However, the ball fell to Marshall, who was waiting on the back post. The Oglethorpe midfielder calmly put his follow-up attempt into the back of the net, setting off pandemonium at the Oglethorpe Track and Field.
The Petrels had the better of the run of play in the second half prior to the Berry goal, as they outshot the Vikings 15-3 over the course of the period. However, Oakes came up huge with seven saves over the second 45 minutes, keeping his team in the game.
The Vikings dented the scoreboard first, tallying the opening goal in the eighth minute of the contest. Oglethorpe responded just over 10 minutes later, though. Junior midfielder Josh Bronstorph unleased a perfect free kick that ricocheted off the post and into the net, tying the score at 1-1 in the 19th minute. The Petrels thought they'd taken the lead later in the half, but had what initially looked like a good goal ruled out for offside in the 30th minute.
With the win, Oglethorpe improved their winning streak to 12 games and their record to 13-2. More importantly, they advanced to the final of the SAA Men's Soccer Championship against Centre Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Oglethorpe Track and Field. The Colonels bested No. 7 seed Millsaps 3-0 in Friday's opening semifinal. It'll mark the second straight year the two teams have played for the SAA championship and the third straight season in which the sides have faced each other in the SAA tournament.