Soccer: Late goals lift UCCS to stunning upset over Westminster
It might be an unfamiliar feeling, but the Mountain Lions wouldn't mind getting used to it.
Bryan Stoeber scored two goals, the second with just 14 seconds remaining in regulation, and Oluwadamilola Oladiran added the game-winning goal in overtime and an assist as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs scored a stunning upset of the NAIA No. 25-ranked Westminster Griffins Friday afternoon at Mountain Lion Stadium.
But the match never looked like a David and Goliath affair, even with Westminster coming off a convincing win over Regis on Thursday. The Mountain Lions did a good job building their offense and avoided the defensive breakdowns that have plagued them this season.
"We were just trying to work as a team," said defender Jeff Gerali, who provided UCCS with a physical presence Friday. "That's our strength, really, as long as we're talking and communicating there's no reason why we can't compete with anybody. That's what we did today and we got the Ã¢â‚¬ËœW.'"
Working as a team paid off with the game-opening goal in the 41st minute. A furious Mountain Lion attack resulted in a point-blank shot by Oladiran, which was blocked by goalkeeper Kimball Parker. The ball deflected to Stoeber who drilled it in.
"I was waiting around at the top of the box in case the ball bounced out," said Stoeber. "I was able to hit it on target and it just bounced in."
When the Mountain Lions (2-8) opened the scoring, it marked only the third match this season in which they have held the lead. In the opener against St. Mary's, UCCS led for 47 minutes, 56 seconds before the Rattlers tied, then won, the match. In UCCS' only other win this season, it led most of the way (79:31). That's just 127:27 holding a lead coming into Friday out of 810 total minutes played.
Little wonder they didn't know what to do with it.
After Stoeber's goal, the Mountain Lions maintained that lead for just 6:56 (not counting the 10-minute halftime). That's when Westminster's Sean Aslett drilled a low shot from 20 yards out that tied the match. The Griffins took the lead just over two minutes later when Aslett found Taylor Lever running towards the right post. Lever blasted a point-blank shot into the upper right corner.
Although the Mountain Lions have struggled at times when trailing this season, they had no such problem Friday. Jeff Bettner tied the match at 2 when he converted a penalty kick in the 56th minute.
The tie didn't last long. Lever scored his second goal of the match off a Dave Rogers assist in the 69th minute.
But UCCS was able to respond again. With just 14 seconds remaining, Stoeber drilled a curving free kick over the defensive wall and past Parker.
"My adrenaline was going," said Stoeber. "I set the ball up, saw the keeper and just hit it over the wall."
The unlikely -- and spectacular -- goal left the Griffins stunned.
"It was a good hit, I guess; a once-in-a-lifetime hit to get it up and over the wall," said Stoeber.
Entering the overtime on an adrenaline high, the Mountain Lions got the winner on a defensive turnover just 2:45 into the period. On a back pass to the center back, Oladiran split the two defenders and intercepted the ball.
"The back passed the ball back real slow," said Oladiran, whom is called Ã¢â‚¬ËœDami' since his first name is nearly unpronounceable for English speakers, "so I just kept running and just got a toe on it."
He juked the lone defender and nudged the ball, which deflected over a sliding Parker and rolled, very, very slowly, into the net.
"It was taking forever," said Oladiran. "It felt like the wind was taking it to the outside (of the goal post).
"I was just praying it would go in and it did."
And answered the prayers of Mountain Lions fans.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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