MACOMB, Ill. - After falling behind 1-0 early in the game, Western Illinois men's soccer scored three straight goals to defeat Oral Roberts 3-1 in the semifinals of the Summit League Tournament at John MacKenzie Alumni Field on Friday afternoon.
Oscar Ortega scored a pair of goals to lead the third-seeded Leathernecks (6-12) past the second-seeded Golden Eagles, who finish their season 6-8-4.
Western Illinois advances to the conference tournament finals and will look to claim its third straight league crown when the Leathernecks take on top-seeded Denver on Sunday at noon.
Oral Roberts took an early 1-0 lead, when Alex White took Gerardo Salas's cross and snuck a shot inside the right post in the seventh minute.
The Leathernecks tallied the equalizer in the 29th minute. Jacob Bevan lofted a header towards the ORU goal, which was saved by a defender, but Bevan followed his own shot and buried a second header in the back of the net.
"I think that when you give up an early goal as we’ve done several times this year, you're thinking, 'Oh no, here we go again,'" head coach Dr. Eric Johnson said. "But fortunately we found a way to tie the game in the first half and that made a huge difference. I thought we played well in the first half after they dropped off a little bit and went low pressure, and we created some good offense and it paid off with a goal. We challenged their keeper on a ball and he missed it, and [Jacob] Bevan made the play. It was huge to go into the half tied instead of down 1-0."
Ortega added an insurance goal less than four minutes later. Passes from Tyler Chavez and Whalen found Ortega in front of the net, as he headed it in for the finish.
Yves Dietrich earned the win in goal, making two saves. Isaac Sandoval made four saves for Oral Roberts.
WIU had the advantage in shots (19-18) and shots on goal (8-3).
Now, the Leathernecks turn their focus to upsetting top-seeded Denver in an effort to win their seventh league tournament title in the past 10 seasons.
"We’re going to have to play our best game of the season and elevate our play as a team all the way across the board," Johnson added. "Denver's very good, a great passing team, they move it well, they’re very disciplined. They don’t get distracted by anything and they’re very focused on what they do."