TIFFIN – A golden goal off the right foot of senior Ryan Homoki lifted the Heidelberg University men's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Marietta College in the opening round of the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament. With Homoki's goal in the 109th minute, the No. 4 seeded Student Princes advance to the semifinals where they will face top seeded Ohio Northern University.
After falling behind early in the second half on a beautiful strike by Marietta's Adam Fox, the Student Princes needed a late equalizer. In the 84th minute, Homoki controlled the ball at the top of the penalty area and played it left for senior Chris Koczak. Koczak set a left-footed cross toward Homoki, but an errant sliding clearance attempt by a Pioneer defender found the back of the net.
"Good things happen when you put the ball in the box," said Koczak.
Following a scoreless first overtime period, it appeared that the game was headed to penalty kicks. In preparation, Heidelberg head coach Ryan Carruth had subbed in goalkeeper Jake Kress.
Homoki, however, had other thoughts. Another cross from Koczak was banged around the penalty area. Homoki ran on to it at the top of the penalty area and struck it with a right foot. Sholl dove to his right and got a hand on it, but it trickled past him into the net.
"I had just enough time for a one-timer ... I was going back post with it the whole time," said Homoki. "It's the greatest feeling, getting the game winner on this field in what is probably my last game on it."
For Homoki, it was his third goal of the season.
"We've played so well together for four years," said Koczak, speaking about his chemistry with Homoki. "There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to put that in the goal."
Kress played less than two minutes and did not record a save, but picked up the win in relief of Alex Archambeau. Archambeau had two saves, including a sprawling point-blank save midway through the second half.
"The field looked and played amazing and it was great to see our seniors shine today," said Carruth, in his first year. "Hidden Valley is a special place and it means a lot to those guys."
With the loss, the season ends for Marietta. The Pioneers finish with a 9-10-1 record.
"I thought Marietta really came to play today. They made it very difficult for us and defended very well," said Carruth. "It did take conceding a goal to wake us up, but once we woke up, boy did we come alive."
Heidelberg (7-8-5) advances to face top-seeded Ohio Northern on Thursday in the semifinals. The Student Princes served ONU its only loss in conference play this season, a 2-0 decision in Tiffin.
"They are a very good team," said Carruth. "We have a healthy respect for them as an opponent, but we know that if we show up, we can play with anyone."
Game time in Ada is slated for 7 p.m.