The weekend started off like a repeat of last year for the East Tennessee State University’s men’s soccer team in their Southern Conference Semifinal match versus UNCG on Thursday.
Despite UNCG having home-field advantage in hosting the Southern Conference Tournament, the Bucs dominated the very competitive match.
“It really wasn’t a 5-2 game, I don’t think anyone on the sidelines felt like it was at any moment,” said Head Coach Bo Oshiniyi. “So I give credit to our guys.”
Just in the first half of the semifinal, the Bucs had recorded four goals all by different players. The first came in the third minute by Joao Ramalho (Monte Santo, Brazil), the second by Mitchell Cecatiello (Pascagoula, Miss.), followed by Serge Gomis (Dakar, Senegal) and Javier Alberto (Johnson City, Tenn.).
Cameron Woodfin (Old Hickory, Tenn.) squeezed in another goal in the second half to finish the game.Woodfin has not let down the Bucs when he is subbed in yet, as this is the tenth game where he has gotten on the scoresheet. He also provided Alberto with an assist.
With a 5-2 win over UNCG, the Bucs got their spot in the SoCon Championship game.
“We took our chances well,” said Oshoniyi. “We talked abut that before the game, making sure we took our chances when we got them.”
For the second year in a row, the Bucs advanced to the final match on Saturday with hearts set on a win. And for the second year, the Bucs barely fell short, this time to the Mercer University Bears.
The game was neck in neck the entirety of regulation play but with Mercer outshooting the Bucs 10-4 overall. At the end of the first, the Bucs had been held to no shots on goal and Mercer only allowed 2 shots.
Ramalho had the best look of the night in the second half with a shot from half-field, but like in the first half, nobody was able to capitalize on anything.
The sophomore keeper Jonny Sutherland (Chester, UK) had a remarkable 1 v. 1 save in the second overtime to keep the Bucs alive a little bit longer.
However, it still remained 0-0 in overtime when the game ended up in penalty kicks.
With four attempts, Mercer made all shots while the Bucs made one and missed two, one saved by the keeper and one sent over the crossbar. The Bears earned the 4-1 win.
The Bucs’ 2016 season could have come to an end during their game against Mercer on Nov. 12, but their hopes for a postseason rally were rejuvenated Monday when they learned that they had received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bucs will face Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at Thompson Field.