November 19, 2016 – The No. 21 ranked Cougars of Spring Arbor University (Mich.) overcame a two-goal deficit in the first half with a two-goal second half performance to level the game 2-2 before sophomore forward Janum Sailor netted the game-winner just over one minute into the first overtime period to upset the 10th seeded Bryan College Lions. The 3-2 win sends the Cougars to Delray Beach, Fla. where they will take on Appalachian Athletic Conference Champion, No. 7 seed Union College (Ky.) on Tuesday, Nov. 22, with kickoff slated for 1:30pm EST. Union College tied American Midwest Regular-Season Champion Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) and advanced on PKs, 5-3.
Just as they have done all season long, the Bryan Lions controlled an early lead while not allowing their opponents to do much offensively. It was the host team’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Charlie Clarke who found the back of the net to put Bryan on the board first at 16:39. It marked his 14th goal of the season, and it was freshman midfielder Brad Spooner’s fifth assist of the year as he connected with Clarke.
It was just over 20 minutes after the initial goal that Bryan’s sophomore defender Cooper Loftin, scored his first goal of the season and second in his career when he stole a pass from a Spring Arbor defender and sent a strike from the top of the box past the outstretched hands of the Cougar’s goalkeeper, Cobi Piper, providing the Lions with a multi-goal lead that was carried into the break. At halftime, Bryan carried a slight shot advantage at 7-5.
The Crossroads League Champion, Spring Arbor, gained their composure at the half and took to the pitch with the mindset that the game was far from over. It took the Cougars less than five minutes to cut the margin to one when Sailor capitalized on a shot missed by Lewis Jones that was saved by the Lion’s keeper, Alex Horton, for his ninth goal of the season. Spring Arbor continued to apply the pressure, as it eventually paid off in the 68-minute mark when junior midfielder Kevin Veeder found freshman midfielder Jacob Crull open who settled the ball and slotted a shot into the goal for his fourth time this season, notching the equalizer which brought the score to 2-2.
Bryan created three looks and Spring Arbor followed with two in the final 22 minutes of play, but neither team could end the game in the first 90 minutes of action. In need of overtime to figure a winner, both teams pieced together game plans and returned to the field.
It was all Spring Arbor as the overtime period got underway with the Cougars attacking and the Lions unable to slow down the pace. In the first minute, two attempts by Spring Arbor led to a pair of corner kicks by Crull. Junior defender Mitchell Simon corralled the ball off a corner kick and delivered a shot but was blocked by Spooner. Freshman defender Alex Sokalski positioned himself to control the rebound and hit an open Sailor who found the back of the net for the second time of the contest and 10th of the year, giving the Cougars the 3-2 win.
Spring Arbor improves their overall record to 15-3-4 and moves their record to 2-2-2 against teams either ranked or receiving votes this season.
Written by Wesley Sanders, Sports Information Director