MACOMB, Ill. - The third-seeded Western Illinois men's soccer team defeated top-seeded Oakland 3-1 in The Summit League Championship at John MacKenzie Alumni Field on Sunday (Nov. 11) to win its second straight crown and sixth in program history.
Western Illinois earns a berth into the NCAA College Cup and will seek its first NCAA Tournament win. The Leathernecks' opponent will be determined during the Division I Men's Soccer Selection Show tomorrow (Nov. 12) at 4:30 p.m.
Heading into the final two league games, the Leathernecks stood at 1-2-2 in the conference and were in seventh place; after two straight league wins, WIU jumped into third place and upset the two highest seeds in the conference tournament.
Bruinsma put the Leathernecks ahead in the 40th minute, when junior Drew Edmond went streaking down the right side and sent a cross into the box, which Bruinsma headed past Oakland keeper Scott Messer.
The Golden Grizzlies tied the game just 21 seconds later, when John DeLeon assisted a Joey Tinnion goal from short-range, and the game was 1-1 heading into halftime.
As the rain picked up in the second half, so did the WIU offense. Sophomore Mario Alvarez found Chavez to set up a one-on-one scenario, and Chavez buried a shot into the right corner of the net in the 68th minute.
Bruinsma and Edmond struck again a minute later, as Edmond again sent in a cross from the right side. This time, Bruinsma used his foot to score, tallying his eighth goal of the season.
Oakland had a key opportunity to cut the deficit in the 81st minute. A Western foul led to a penalty kick opportunity, but sophomore keeper Yves Dietrich made a diving, full-extension save on Lucas Diener's shot to keep the margin at 3-1.
Dietrich was strong in net all game, saving six of the seven shots on goal he faced.
Bruinsma was named The Summit League Tournament MVP, totaling three goals in two games.
In addition to Bruinsma, Edmond (three assists), Dietrich (2-0, 10 saves, one goal allowed) and junior Charlie Bales (five shots, three shots on goal) were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Bales led a defense that held strong down the stretch; after Bruinsma's second goal, Oakland took 11 shots in the final 20:01, but none found the back of the net.
Western has now won six of the last nine conference titles, and holds an 11-1-1 record in league playoff games since its first title in 2004.
"I think realistically, they [Oakland] were the favorite. They had the best season on paper," head coach Dr. Eric Johnson said. "We found big moments and in those big moments we rose to the occasion."