KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Western Illinois men's soccer squad (13-6-1) used a come-from-behind victory to capture the 2011 Summit League Tournament Title and earn a berth into the NCAA College Cup. The top-seeded Leathernecks defeated the No. 3 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, 2-1 in the Summit League tournament finals.
The Summit League tournament crown marks the fifth of its kind in the last eight seasons for head coach Dr. Eric Johnson and the Leathernecks. The sweep of Summit League regular season and tournament champions marks the second time in program history. The only other time it occurred was in 2006 under the guidance of coach Johnson.
"It was an up and down game, the emotions were swinging, but I'm smiling right now," said coach Johnson. "We are really happy to be able to represent the Summit League and have the opportunity to be one of the final 48 teams. The team is ecstatic, it was one of the goals we set, and now we need to turn our mindset to our next goal and that's to get our first ever win in the NCAA tournament."
The Leathernecks had four players named to the 2011 Summit League All-Tournament Team. Along with tournament MVP Charlie Bales, midfielders Alexis Dominguez, Mariano Leo and Husref Jupic all earned honors.
The Leathernecks fell behind midway through the first half when Oral Roberts' Paul Oliver was able to find the back of the net and give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead heading into halftime. Oral Roberts finished the first with six shots, four on goal, to Western's four shots, one on goal.
Just 10 minutes into the second half the match was tied up when Oral Roberts' goalkeeper Nick Petolick knocked the ball into his net for a Leatherneck score on an own goal in the 54th minute.
Once the score was knotted up at one, Western Illinois turned up the heat, controlling possession for the majority of the second. The pressure paid off when sophomore defender Charlie Bales was taken down in the box and given a chance at a penalty kick. Bales capitalized on the game-winner, and the Leathernecks would hold on to the 2-1 victory.
Coach Johnson talked a bit about how this game compared to the team's first game of the tournament.
"Today's match was the opposite of how our match against Oakland went on Friday. We started the game really slow and didn't have a very good first half," said coach Johnson. "We made a bad decision on their goal and I think we lost our composer a little bit. Then a tremendous effort by our team in the second half, we really just took over the game. Our pressure forced them into making a mistake that tied things up, then we really turned up the pressure, got behind them and got the penalty kick. (Charlie) Bales put all the pressure on his shoulders and make it.
The Leathernecks outshot Oral Roberts, 11-8, while each team put five shots on goal.
Senior goalkeeper Andy Ryan made four saves and allowed one goal in the match, improving his overall record to 13-5-1.
The Leathernecks will find out who and where they will be playing in the opening round of the NCAA College Cup when the bracket is announced at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow (Monday, Nov. 14) on the NCAA.com website.