A standing-room-only crowd watched top-seeded Oglethorpe defend their home pitch with a clean sheet 3-nil win over second-seeded Rhodes College in the Southern Athletic Association Men’s Soccer Tournament.
Junior forward Ben Alram was named MVP on the strength of two assists and a goal in the win. The French footballer made the most of a penalty kick in the 74th minute delivering a laser shot past Nate Slota of the Lynx.
Slota gave up three goals in the second half. Luke Ferrari opened up the scoring for the Stormy Petrels slotting in the entry from the corner. “I actually got direction from coach (Akin) on the sideline telling me to break across towards the front post,” said Ferrari. “I started deep and made my run early and timed it well and got on the end of it. It was a great ball from Ben.”
While all of the goals occurred in the second half, the first half was not without drama. Oglethorpe had a goal wiped off the board 13 minutes in because of an offside call. Later in the half, a bit of miscommunication almost resulted in an on-goal. Fortunately for the Stormy Petrels, freshman goalkeeper Nicolas Mejia was able to swat the ball before it could cross the line.
The fans packed into the grandstands and standing around the fence lining the track only had to wait five minutes for the next goal from the Stormy Petrels. Forward Javier Aponte cleaned up around the front of the goal rocketing the ball from Alram to the back of the net.
“We knew they were going to press us very high and hard from the start,” said Ferrari. “We knew there was spacing behind them and we have a very talented and aggressive front three. We just needed to get the ball to them.”
The play of the back line and freshman goalkeeper Nicolas Mejia limited the Lynx to three shots on goal. Oglethorpe head coach Jon Akin heaped praise on the quartet. “Our back line is tough,” he said. “I think we are leading the nation right now with 13 shutouts.”
Coach Akin gets his fourth tournament championship in 21 years at the helm. The Stormy Petrels will find out who they will play on Monday at 2 p.m. during the live streaming of the 2023 NCAA DIII men’s soccer selection show and bracket release. https://www.ncaa.com/ The NCAA DIII National Championship will be played in Salem, VA.
2023 SAA Men’s Soccer All-Tournament Team
Centre – Jacob Camacho
Sewanee – Will Pucek
Rhodes – Max Sosa
Rhodes – Jesus Tadeo
Oglethorpe – Daniel Amah
Oglethorpe – JR Cozine
Oglethorpe – Ben Alram (MVP)