Hearts beating rapidly and sweat pouring from determination.
Just a couple of emotions running through any soccer player in the 92nd minute of overtime.
Relief does not hit the field until the game is over.
On Tuesday Sept. 13, Fletcher Ekern (Knoxville, Tenn.) of the East Tennessee State University men’s soccer team brought that relief on the field when he completed a game-winning goal in the 92nd minute against No. 1 team in the nation, North Carolina in UNC territory.
The goal was set up by sophomore midfielder Cameron Woodfin (Old Hickory, Tenn.). He set up the play from the right side when he kicked the ball to teammate Ekern and Ekern finished it off at the goal.
Ekern says that he and Woodfin have a connection and he knew what to do when he saw Woodfin with the ball.
“It was fantastic,” said Ekern. “I haven’t really had anything that big. I’ve definitely had big goals, but nothing that extreme so there was pure emotion running around.”
During the game, despite no goals being made, UNC’s offense seemed to have strong control over the ball. North Carolina doubled the number of shots of ETSU, completed 16 at the end of the game compared to ETSU’s eight.
Shots don’t mean much if they are not making it to the net and ETSU’s defense made sure that they did not get there.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland (Chester, U.K.) made three important saves to add to his now seventh career shutout.
The Buc’s goal in overtime put the team at a 3-2 record thus far, and gave UNC their first loss of the season, pushing them back to 4-1. This win is the first time in program history that ETSU has defeated a team ranked No.1 in the nation.
“Winning a conference game is big,” said Ekern. “But it’s nothing like this. This is on another level.”
This was Ekern’s first goal of the season and first collegiate game-winning goal.
“I’ve been getting texts from friends from everywhere saying good job,” said Ekern. “It’s putting our name out there, getting our name out to the nation so hopefully we can bring in bigger better players, move on with the ones we have and keep this program growing.”
The team’s next match will be at home in Summers-Taylor Stadium against UNC Asheville on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.
“We just have to keep playing,” said Ekern. “…Keep working with the same energy we played with last night. As long as we bring that energy and keep fighting together I think we will be ok.”