Junior Tyler Gill scored the game-winning goal against Holy Cross
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — On a night with weather conditions not
meant for a title bout, the Olivet Nazarene University men’s soccer team didn’t
let the circumstances ruin their chances at a second straight trip to the NAIA
National Tournament Opening Round. The Tigers earned their way by winning the
CCAC Tournament Championship 2-1 over Holy Cross College (Ind.). Olivet avenged
an earlier loss to the Saints by the same score.
The Tigers' (15-5-1) Head Coach David Blahnik had his team
focused on one goal: winning the conference tournament championship for the
third time in program history. ONU had to win to keep playing in the national
tournament. However, it was against a team that had their number, losing 2-1 earlier
in the year. ONU had also tied the Saints (14-7) in a double overtime game in 2011.
On Saturday night, Nov. 16, the Tigers had to rely on their conference-best
defense to keep the Saints from finding the net until their offense was finally successful. In the 39th minute, freshman
Ryan Totsch (Oswego, Ill.) picked a great time to score his first goal. He
was assisted by Miguel Fierro (Urbana,
Ill.), his third of the year.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead into the half, but could never
feel comfortable with just a one-goal lead. That’s exactly what the visiting
Saints thought as well, taking advantage of rare error by the ONU defense. Alex
Clarke scored to tie the game when he was tied by Niko Jelicic.
With every minute ticking away, the game tied at 1-1. With the
title on the line, only one goal might be needed to win the game. With 73:34 to
play, junior Tyler Gill (Plainfield,
Ill.) provided what Olivet needed when Richard
Paret (West Chicago, Ill.) found him for the eventual game winner.
The game was played very closely on the offensive end with
both teams getting almost the same amount of shots; ONU had 12 and Holy Cross
had 11. However, the Saints finished with seven on net but only managed to put
one through. With sloppy conditions, the game did get a little physical with
four cards handed out and 19 fouls called.
Sophomore goalkeeper Zach
Chambers (Flanders, N.J.) recorded six saves in his 14th win of the season.
He currently has a 0.94 goals against average, the top best mark in the CCAC.
ONU will await word on their opponent for their opening
round matchup. They will play on Saturday, Nov. 23.