Oct. 30, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Sophomore Patrick Sopko scored in the 94th minute to give the Navy men's soccer team a thrilling 2-1 victory over Holy Cross on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.
The win, the Midshipmen's third in a row, improves Navy's overall record to 7-7-3 and its Patriot League mark to 3-2-1. The Mids moved into a third-place tie with Lehigh in the Patriot League standings with 10 points. Holy Cross is now 1-13-2 overall and 0-6-0 in the league race.
"Every game in the Patriot League is a dogfight and today was no different," said Navy head coach Dave Brandt. "I felt we were in pretty good control when we went up 1-0, but we gave up a bad goal and after that, it became a dogfight again. We got a break in overtime and took advantage and got a big goal to win it."
Sopko's game-winning goal, his first tally of the year, came as he sent a ball into the box where a Holy Cross player tried to clear it, but misplayed the ball causing it to carom into the right corner for the 2-1 victory.
The goal was Navy's first overtime victory in three tries this year, improving to 1-0-2 in overtime games. The Midshipmen are now 5-1-6 in 12 overtime games during the Dave Brandt era.
Navy got on the board first when senior defenseman Billy Sweetman (Austin, Texas), playing in his final home game, scored in the game's 58th minute to give Navy a 1-0 lead. Alex Wilson (So. / Phoenix, Ariz.) sent a ball from the corner after a restart to David Jackson (Jr. / Forest, Va.), who flicked a pass to Sweetman, who then deposited the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
The assists were Jackson's second of the year and Wilson's third of the season. Jackson now scored six points (2 g, 2 a) in Navy's last three games.
But in the 62nd minute, Holy Cross tied the game at 1-1 when Tommy Uttaro scored off a Navy turnover deep in its own end with an assist to Pat McCann.
Neither team mounted much of a threat in the last 28 minutes of the contest, sending the contest to overtime where Sopko eventually won it in the 94th minute.
Navy's defense had a solid day in the back, limiting Holy Cross to the one goal and just 11 shots attempted, including just five shots in the game's final 49 minutes.
"Our defense played pretty well and there was nothing we could really do about the goal," said Brandt. "We have made some changes and we have really tightened things up in the last two weeks."
Navy outshot the Crusaders, 16-11, including 12-5 in the second half and overtime. Holy Cross had six corner kicks to Navy's five and the Crusaders were whistled for 11 fouls to Navy's seven. Max Renaldo (Jr. / Tampa, Fla.) remained unbeaten in goal (2-0-0) with a five-save performance.
Navy now controls its own destiny for a berth in the Patriot League Tournament and take on Colgate next Saturday, beginning at 4:00 pm in Hamilton, N.Y. Colgate is currently 10-4-3 overall and in second place in the league standings with a 4-1-1 mark. The Midshipmen own a big tiebreaker with their 2-1 win over American, being the only league team to defeat American so far this year.
Lafayette and Army are playing this afternoon, which will determine what Navy needs to do next weekend against Colgate to earn a spot in the league tournament. Entering today, Lafayette was tied with Navy fourth with seven points, while Army was in sixth place with six points. After today, Navy will be in no worse than a tie for third in the league standings.
It marks the second straight year that Navy controls its own destiny for a spot in the league tournament heading into the final weekend. The Mids fell to Lafayette, 1-0, in the final game of the year a season ago to deny the Mids a trip to the postseason.
Next week's schedule features Navy at Colgate (4:00 pm), Lafayette at Bucknell (1:00 pm), American at Holy Cross (3:00 pm) and Army at Lehigh (7:00 pm).
# GO NAVY #