TIFFIN -- It was quite a send off.
Senior Hamid Shariff scored twice to propel the Heidelberg University men's soccer team to a 2-0 victory over Wilmington College on Saturday. It was the final regular season contest for Shariff, four other seniors and head coach Brian Haley.
After the match, Haley – surrounded by his current team and a throng of nearly 50 former players – was recognized for his leadership and dedication to the program.
Heidelberg (10-6-3, 6-2-1 OAC) struck with a goal in the 21st minute. Greg Raimondo cleared a ball out of the HU end up to Alexis Mendoza on the right side. Mendoza flicked the ball with his head on to Ryan Homoki. Homoki's quick touch sprang Shariff free in the penalty area with the ball. The senior poked it past Quaker goalkeeper R.J. Mancini, just inside the right post.
The match remained 1-0 throughout much of the contest. With just over six minutes left, Andrea Isea received a yellow card for a dangerous play inches outside of the penalty area. The Wilmington free kick was blasted into a four-man wall and deflected to the left side of the box. A cross by WC was blindly cleared out to midfield by Shariff. Sprinting down the field, Shariff ran onto the ball and passed ahead to a wide open Chris Koczak. With Mancini charging, Koczak tied to play the ball off to Isea, but it was knocked into the corner. Isea corralled the loose ball and played it to Kurt Wilhelm at the top of the box. Wilhelm sent a bouncing ball across the area to Shariff, who gained control and toe-poked it past Mancini. A last-ditch effort to clear the ball off the line by Daniel Wicks was unsuccessful, as the assistant referee ruled that the ball had gone in, giving Shariff his second tally of the game and fifth of the season.
With the two-goal cushion, Heidelberg hunkered down and ran out the clock.
The clean sheet for HU goalkeeper Matthew Stevens was his eighth of the year, a Heidelberg record. The senior made two saves and lowered his goals against average to an OAC-best 1.05.
Heidelberg outshot the Quakers 19-6.
The victory was the 238th for Haley, who is third on the OAC's career wins list.
THE NEXT STEP
While earlier in the day, it looked like a win or a tie would give Heidelberg the #2 seed and a first-round bye in the tournament, a forfeit would change the complexion of the bracket. Otterbein inadvertently used an ineligible player in their game against Baldwin Wallace. Because of this, the Cardinals forfeited the win, which bumped BW's record to 6-2-1, just like Heidelberg's mark. BW and The Berg tied in the regular season, but BW won the seeding tiebreaker thanks to a win over fourth-seeded Ohio Northern.
Thus, #3 Heidelberg will host #6 Marietta on Monday. The time of the match has yet to be determined. #4 Ohio Northern hosts #5 Capital in the other first round match up.
The Heidelberg-Marietta winner will face #2 Baldwin Wallace in Berea while the ONU-Capital winner travels to John Carroll. The semifinal matches will be held on Wednesday.
Head coach Brian Haley about Shariff's superb afternoon: "I thought he was outstanding ... Hamid, I thought, brought that little bit of special quality that we needed."
Haley on Matthew Stevens' leadership in goal: "His leadership helps to organize the back four for us ... He'll be the first to admit that it's not just his clean sheet, it's the team's clean sheet."