Sept. 2, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kenny Cunningham scored the game-winning goal in the 97th minute to give the Ohio State men’s soccer team a 3-2 overtime victory vs. Davidson in the final game of the Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Sunday. The Buckeyes captured the tourney title for the second year in a row, while picking up their first victory of the season to improve to 1-2-1 overall.
The Buckeyes trailed 2-0 after 61 minutes of action, but battled back with two late scores in regulation from Sebastian Rivas and Alex Bujenovic to force extra time for the second-consecutive game. Bujenovic earned MVP honors for the event and was joined by Chris Hegngi, Zach Mason and Alex Ivanov as the OSU representatives on the all-tournament team.
“We didn’t play well but we managed to get a win, so I’m really happy for my team because of that,” John Bluem, Ohio State head coach, said. “We’ve had a little bit of bad luck this season, some games could have gone our way that just didn’t; maybe this win will turn it around for us. The guys that played the last 20 minutes of the game and the overtime periods when we played a man down were very, very good in their effort.”
Andrew Dilallo put the Wildcats (0-2-1) on the board first midway through the 10th minute of action and stretched their lead to two in the middle of the second half when Luke Blades finished off a free kick that founds its way into the back of the net.
Now trailing 2-0, the Buckeyes suffered another setback when sophomore Yianni Sarris took a red card, forcing the team to play with 10 men for the remainder of the contest; however, the penalty proved to be the spark they needed.
“After Yianni [Sarris] left the game, we just looked at each other and decided this was it, the turning point to our season thus far,” Cunningham said. “We really needed the win.”
And so the comeback began.
Less than seven minutes after the card, Adam Gorski launched one of his renowned throw-ins into the box and Rivas was able to punch it in from point-blank range to cut the lead in half. Bujenovic would add the equalizer five minutes later, scoring his second goal of the tournament, this one off a perfectly-placed free kick into the upper 90.
“On the free kick when we call on Alex Bujenovic who is a freshman and just so naïve, but he has an unbelievable left foot,” Bluem said of his player choice for the set piece. “He scored a great goal on Friday night, but today was even better. From that point forward even though we were a man down I thought we started to control the game more.”
This control would ultimately lead to the game-winning tally just under seven minutes into extra time. After each side sent a pair of attempts off their mark, play ended up back in the Buckeye attacking third where Austin McAnena had a shot stopped by Wildcat goalkeeper Matt Pacifici. The rebound was sent back into play and after being knocked around, Cunningham was able to send the deflection inside the right post, although his recollection is not as clear.
“I played a combo into Chris [Hegngi] and he passed it to Austin [McAnena]. Austin ripped the shot and there was a scrum in front of the goal and I guess it deflected off me; all I knew is that the ball was in the back of the net.”
This is the first overtime victory for Ohio State since Oct. 23, 2012, a 1-0 win over Penn State in Columbus.
The Buckeyes held 25-14 advantage in shots and a 9-5 margin in corners. Pacifici came up with seven stops for Davidson, while Ivanov tallied five saves in his second career start for the Scarlet & Gray.
Ohio State will pack its bags for the left coast and head to San Diego for a pair of games next weekend. Back in the home state of seniors Austin McAnena and Sebastian Rivas and freshman Jake Bartlett, the Buckeyes will take on San Diego at 7:30 p.m. PT (10:30 ET) Friday and San Diego State at 1 p.m. PT (4 ET) Sunday. Although both games are part of SDSU’s Courtyard Marriott SD Central Soccer Tournament, they will be played at the schools’ respective home fields.
Prior to the match, Iris Wolstein was honored for her $4.9 million gift through the Bertram L. and Iris S. Wolstein Foundation to The Ohio State University Department of Athletics and the Max M. Fisher College of Business. A portion of funds will continue to support the annual tournament in the name of her and her late husband Bert and will dub the home pitch Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, pending approval by the Board of Trustees.
From 1979 to 1988 Bert Wolstein and his son Scott were the owners of the Cleveland Force, a professional indoor soccer team in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Since then, Iris and Bart’s support of Ohio State athletics has included a major contribution to the Ohio Stadium renovation project, which resulted in the dedication of the Iris S. and BertL. Wolstein Football Center, located in the southeast tower of Ohio Stadium.
Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic All-Tournament Team
Alex Bujenovic, Ohio State (MVP)
Chris Hegngi, Ohio State
Zach Mason, Ohio State
Alex Ivanov, Ohio State
Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina
Uchenna Uzo, Coastal Carolina
Ricky Garbanzo, Coastal Carolina
Jacob Bye, Wright State
Derek Zuniga, Wright State
Emeka Onoye, Wright State
Alex Givens, Davidson
Peter Paras, Davidson