LAMONI — The William Penn men's soccer team definitely earned the nickname Cardiac Kids Thursday as it rallied with a late goal in both regulation and overtime to take down Heart of America Athletic Conference foe Graceland 2-1 in overtime.
Down 1-0 at halftime, the Statesmen scored with 15 seconds to go in the game to tie the contest. Then, with only two seconds left in the first extra session, the visitors struck again with the golden goal to improve to 7-4 overall and 7-2 in Heart action. WPU has extended its winning streak to five straight.
Graceland (4-5, 2-5 Heart) had played some very close games with some of the top teams in the conference, so the Statesmen knew they would be in for a battle. The first 45 minutes saw the navy and gold struggle to figure out the Yellowjacket defense. The home side limited WPU to just one shot on target going into intermission. The pressure from Graceland eventually led to its lone goal as the hosts went ahead just short of the 30-minute mark.
With the home side on the board, the Statesmen woke up and started to press the issue. While they were still limited in their total number of chances, the direction of play began to shift as the navy and gold attacked, while the Yellowjackets knuckled down to hold their lead. Sagar Bhattarai (Jr., Columbus, Ohio) had WPU's lone first-half shot, but GU keeper Liam Smith remained calm and collected the ball in his gloves.
The second half was better from William Penn, although it was still bottled up. Unable to get clean looks, WPU settled for long-ranged efforts as well as set pieces to generate chances.
Finally, with under a minute to go, the Statesmen got the ball forward and earned a foul. Milton Magana (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.) put it down, waited just a beat as the clock ticked under 30 seconds to go, and chipped it to the left side of the box. The ball was headed down across the six-yard box, then a plethora of feet reached out for it, but Samuel Marchi (Jr., London, England) found it first and stroked it home to tie the bout with 15 ticks remaining. It is Marchi's first goal as a Statesmen. At 1-1, overtime ensued.
The Yellowjackets came out flying at the beginning of the extra period, pressing with energy as the home crowd tried to will them to a goal. The Statesmen handled the pressure well, however, and started to find their own way forward. A couple chances per side were deflected and the stalemate resumed.
Once again, time seemed to favor Graceland. The home squad played deep into the WPU end with under a minute to go as a second OT seemed inevitable. However, the ball landed for Luke Andrews (Jr., Andover, England), who sent it down the near sideline. Hidenobu Inoue (Jr., Yamaguchi, Japan) gave chase and when the defender mishandled his touch, Inoue stole it and went down the end-line and put a shot toward the goal. The keeper pushed it away, but the angle reflected it back towards the penalty spot and there waited Magana, who blasted the Statesmen to an OT win with just two seconds left on the board. The goal is Magana's fourth of the year.
At game's end, William Penn was outshot 5-4 in the defensive matchup with Magana headlining with two attempts. Rafael Martins (Jr., Boca Raton, Fla.) made one save in the winning effort.
"What a crazy game!" Head Coach Simon Brown said. "We created enough chances to win the game in regulation, but just could not find the back of the net. Credit to them as they were fighting for their lives and gave us everything they had. They had a great fanbase as well that made it a brilliant atmosphere.”
"This win shows the desire and relentless approach our guys have right now," Brown added. "Hopefully we take this momentum into our final three games of the year.”
Next Up: The schedule does not get any easier as the current leaders in the Heart, the Vikings of Missouri Valley, will roll into Oskaloosa next Wednesday, October 21, for a 5 p.m. showdown.