TIFFIN – Heading late into the match in a 1-1 tie, it took some late heroics, but the Heidelberg University men's soccer team emerged victorious in a quarterfinal OAC match, winning 2-1. A goal by freshman Alexis Mendoza with under eight minutes to play in the match lifted Heidelberg past Marietta.
The opening period was completely controlled by the Berg, finding plenty of opportunities. None of those chances found the goal, however, as the match entered halftime in a scoreless tie. The Student Princes out-shot the Pioneers 14-1 in the half.
In the second half, much of the same happened on the field as Heidelberg continued to control the possession. That finally paid off in the 53rd minute when Ryan Homoki made a nice cross to Hamid Shariff, who drilled it into the back of the net to give the Student Princes the 1-0 advantage.
Marietta responded in the 67th minute when Jake Hannahs made the most of an opportunity, netting the equalizer.
Heidelberg would not be held down, however, as they battled for chance after chance, and in the 83rd minute, Hamid Shariff crossed the ball to Alexis Mendoza, who headed it down and off a Marietta defender for the game-winning goal. The Pioneers had one more threat in the 87th minute, but Matthew Stevens made the save to seal the victory.
"I think a little bit more taking our chances would have finished the game earlier, but we didn't, they got it back to 1-1, but we went on to win the game. Really, we dug it out when we needed to, but we should've put it away in the first half" said head coach Brian Haley, in his 26th and final season. "We held our nerve, kept our mental toughness and got the job done, and we look forward to Wednesday."
"We did well in the beginning to keep them down, we got chances but we did not put them away, and that's what kept them in the game and they got a little confidence" said senior midfielder Hamid Shariff. "Once we put it in I think we reacted well and we got the win. I just want the team to win and to make history with Coach [Haley]."
Mendoza led the attack with seven shots while Shariff registered five. Stevens made two saves in the match, including the one with less than three minutes to go, wrapping up the win.
The Student Princes out-shot Marietta 22-6 for the match, also recording four corner kicks compared to two for the Pioneers.
With the win, Heidelberg improved to 11-6-3 on the season, while Marietta wraps up the 2014 campaign at 6-12. The Student Princes now move on to the semifinals of the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament to face Baldwin Wallace on Wednesday. That match in Berea is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 p.m.