08/29/05 — Trojans pull out OT win

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Trojans pull out OT win

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 29, 2005 1:57 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College and Lander University (S.C.) finished the 2004 season tied for fourth in the NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings. In Sunday's head-to-head matchup in the finale of the Mount Olive College Invitational, it took overtime to break a tie in a their showdown at Trojan Field.

Four minutes into the first overtime period, Mount Olive sophomore Chris Varela took a pass from teammate Reid Clewis and found daylight just outside the top of the 18-yard box. Varela took several dribbles, then fired a shot with the outside of his foot -- past the diving Bearcat goalie, Garrett Daum, for the game-winner as the Trojans claimed a 3-2 win.

"I saw plenty of space and the two defenders were worried about the runners and not me, so I decided to take it and hit it with the outside of my foot ... game over," Varela said. "It feels great, especially since they are a regional opponent."

Clewis was a part of all three, Mount Olive goals -- tallying one goal wedged between two assists. Clewis, a senior, Varela and juniors Charles Williams and Brandon Mills were named to the All-Tournament team for the Trojans.

For the defending Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament champions, a team with hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Division II Tournament, Sunday's contest was a big, early-season regional victory. But, it wouldn't come easy on a hot, humid day in southern Wayne County.

With the Trojans clinging to a 2-1 lead with just over two minutes left and a one-man advantage, Lander tossed a long throw-in into the Mount Olive box. The Trojans never managed to clear the ball and after a brief scramble, Bearcat senior Carlos Lozano knocked home a goal to equalize the game at 2-2.

"Two good teams going at it ... It was a battle of possession and creativity. It was back-and-forth," Mount Olive coach Jerry Riggs said. "They would have great opportunities and we would have great opportunities. It was a good game."

There were a few, hanging heads on the Mount Olive sideline, but the Trojans came out invigorated in overtime as Varela scored on Mount Olive's second deep attack in a four-minute span.

Eleven minutes into the game, the Trojans got on the board first. Clewis made a run from the right side over to the left and dribbled to the left corner after receiving a pass. Clewis fired a shot toward goal as unmarked, junior midfielder Chris Jasso ran on and knocked it in to make it 1-0.

The goal energized the Bearcats as they seemed to control the possession for most of the first half. But, Mount Olive goalie Chris Roush and the Trojan defense did a solid job of clearing. Lander eventually tied things up at 1-1 when Lozano chipped a free kick into the box, and teammate Luke Ibbetson timed the pass perfectly and booted it out of the air and into the net.

In the second half, the see-saw battle continued. Williams won a ball near midfield, then dribbled through and around the heart of the Bearcat defense -- battling off the opposition. As he neared the box, Williams found Clewis with a pass as the senior gave Mount Olive a 2-1 advantage, 17 minutes into the half.

"I feel like I got fouled a couple of times, but I just kept going and that's what it takes," Williams said. "You're going to take knicks, but you've got to keep playing.

"It's not only his speed, but it's the great runs he makes. His speed only adds to those runs," Williams added about Clewis.

Six minutes later, Lander's Brent Cimino picked up a red card, leaving the Bearcats a man down for the rest of the game and eventually overtime. With the one-man advantage and a one-goal lead, Riggs stressed possession to his squad from the sideline. At times, the Trojans heeded their coaches words, but they also seemed anxious to force passes on several occasions -- giving Lander extra possessions.

Even short-handed, the Bearcats got four corner kicks during a 10-minute span in the final 15 minutes, leading up to the equalizing goal.

"We made a couple of bad decisions late and it cost us. We will correct that this week, because we have to quit making those mistakes," Riggs said. "Those mistakes will kill us with 1:30 left. You just have to learn from it ... not give in so easy with a one-goal lead."

In Sunday's early game, St. Andrews defeated Chowan 8-0 to exit the tournament with a 1-1 mark. Chowan finished the tourney at 0-2.

The Trojans have nearly a week off as they host Newberry (S.C.) at 4 p.m. on Saturday.