The top-seeded and 18th-ranked Oglethorpe men's soccer team advanced to their third straight SAA Men's Soccer Championship final Friday night with a tight 2-1 win over fourth-seeded Berry in the semifinals at the Oglethorpe Track and Field. The win improved the Stormy Petrels to 14-3 on the season overall and brought them to within a game of advancing to the third NCAA tournament in program history.
The Petrels jumped on the visiting Vikings early in the game, scoring the opening goal in the 12th minute. Senior defender Christian Waegelin sent in a long ball from around 40 yards out that went just past the outstretched feet of a couple Oglethorpe forwards. However, sophomore midfielder Affonso Temporal was able to run onto it on the far post and smash it past Berry goalkeeper Baker Hoyt for a 1-0 advantage.
Berry found an equalizer on the counterattack in the 28th minute, though, tying the score at 1-1, but Oglethorpe had an answer for that before halftime. The Petrels won a corner kick and senior midfielder Josh Bronstorph expertly found the head of senior defender Sebastian Carlson in the box. Carlson beat Hoyt with his header to give his team a 2-1 lead in the 37th minute.
Both teams enjoyed quality scoring chances in the opening half of play, with the Petrels outshooting the Vikings 9-7 for the period.
The run of play tilted Oglethorpe's way in the second half, as they went in search of the backbreaking goal and outshot Berry 11-3. Hoyt made several big saves though, tallying five stops over the course of the period, and he was able to keep the Petrels off the scoreboard. The Oglethorpe defense held, though, keeping Berry to a single shot on goal and a single corner kick in the second half and ensuring they never really threatened to tie the game late. The Vikings' best chance to tie the game came in the 86th minute, as the ball fell to a Berry attacker in the box. A Petrel defender threw himself in front of the shot, though, and was able to deflect it into the hands of freshman goalkeeper Ulises Rodriguez. Berry failed to get a shot off after that.
Oglethorpe outshot Berry 20-10 for the game overall, including a 9-4 mark in shots on goal. They also took four corner kicks to Berry's two.
The Petrels face off against second-seeded Centre Sunday at 1 p.m. for the SAA championship at the Oglethorpe Track and Field. It'll mark the third straight year in which the two teams have faced each other in the championship game. The winner will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship while the loser will hope to get one of 21 general at-large invitations to the tournament.