BALTIMORE, MD â€“ Corey Maret blasted a shot into the lower right corner of the goal 2:11 into overtime to lead UNC Greensboro to a 2-1 victory over Loyola (MD) in the second round of the NCAA menâ€™s soccer tournament.
It got late for Cinderella on Tuesday night, as the Spartans trailed 1-0 with 20 minutes left in regulation time. But Nirav Kadamâ€™s tally with 16:05 left tied it and Maretâ€™s marker in the extra session kept the Spartansâ€™ season alive.
The Spartans continued their miraculous run as they advanced to 10-11-2 on the year, while the ninth-seed Loyola Greyhounds finished their season with an 18-2-1 mark after dropping their final two games of the season. The Greyhounds had a 27-match unbeaten streak and were the last unbeaten in the nation this season before losing to Fairfield in the MAAC Tournamentâ€™s title match.
â€œIt (the ball) was in the box, in-between two defenders, and I just tried to hit it as hard as I could,â€ said Maret of the game-winner. â€œWe were really pumped up at the beginning of overtime. We really thought going into overtime that we would win the game.â€
Maretâ€™s tally earned him a trip home. The junior from Ocala, FL will join his teammates for a match-up at eighth-seeded South Florida, a 2-1 winner over Harvard on Tuesday night. That game will be played either Saturday or Sunday.
For UNCG, it will be their fourth trip to the Round of 16 in the last five seasons. This will be the most unlikely of them, though, having lost 11 matches during the regular season â€“ tied for the most by an NCAA Menâ€™s Soccer Tournament qualifier in the 50-year history of the event. But the Spartans have now gone farther than any of the six teams that have gone into the tournament with a sub-.500 record.
â€œThis (win) is kind of special to be honest,â€ said UNCG coach Michael Parker, whose team gave him career win No. 488. â€œIn the past we have done fairly well in the NCAA tournament because we have had great teams, but this team has shown a lot of heart to get where they are right now.
â€œItâ€™s one of the best wins in years for our program because this was one of the least likely teams to pull off a win like this.â€
With the win, UNCG also clinched its 29th consecutive season of 10 or more wins. UNCG has won 10 or more matches every season going back to 1980 â€“ the first season of Mike Berticelliâ€™s tenure as head coach. Michael Parkerâ€™s squads have won 10 or more matches each of the last 32 seasons of his career â€“ spanning seven seasons at Lock Haven and the last 25 at UNCG.
UNCG threatened early as a header from Tim Masters went wide of the goal in the fifth minute, but the Greyhounds took control for the rest of the half. Loyola had its first real scoring opportunity in the 16th minute when Eddie Dines received the ball at the top of the six-yard box, but was unable to get a good shot off and goalkeeper Nate Berry smothered the ball.
Dine struck again just two minutes later but his shot from the right side of the 18-yard box sailed just over the crossbar. The Greyhounds almost found the scoreboard for the first time in the 19th minute as Bannister hit an open shot from 14 yards out, but a diving kick save from Berry kept the game scoreless.
Loyola finally found the back of the net in the 25th minute to give the Greyhounds a 1-0 advantage. Forward Jamie Darvill dribbled to the right side on a counter attack before crossing the ball to Bannister who headed it into the left side of the goal.
It was a tale of two halves as the Spartans, though, came out in the second half with a newfound confidence on the offensive end. UNCG controlled possession for much of the half and had a great scoring chance in the 48th minute. Masters was able to find himself open from 20 yards out, but his shot just slipped wide left of the goal.
UNC Greensboro almost knotted the game if not for a spectacular save by Greyhound goalkeeper Milos Kocic shortly thereafter. Jokull Elisabetarson ripped a shot from the top of the 18-yard box, but Milos made a one-handed diving save to his right to preserve the shutout.
UNCG finally broke through in the 84th-minute as Nirav Kadam scored his fourth goal of the season and second in as many games. Elisabetarson had another shot from just outside the box, but Milos made another diving save. He wasnâ€™t able to corral the rebound, however, and Kadam was able to knock in the rebound to tie the game at 1-1.
With neither team able to break the deadlock in the first 90 minutes the game went into overtime. Just over two minutes into the first overtime period the ball bounced around between several different players before Maret ripped a shot from the top of the box between two greyhound defenders and found the right corner of the goal for the 2-1 victory.
Score by periods
Scoring: LC – Bannister (Darville) 24:23; UNCG â€“ Kadam (Elisabetarson) 73:55; UNCG â€“ Maret (unassisted) 92:11. Shots: UNCG 11, Loyola 17. Saves: UNCG 5 (Berry 5), Loyola 2 (Kocic 2). Corner kicks: UNCG 4, Loyola 4. Fouls: UNCG 8, Loyola 8.