A week after clinching its second GLIAC regular season championship in the past three years, the SVSU men’s soccer team drew its sixth match of the season Friday, Oct. 26, as it squandered an early 2-0 lead to Ashland and ultimately tied 2-2.
The team now begins postseason play, starting with the GLIAC conference tournament. SVSU will host the semifinal and finals matches. Teams finishing third through sixth in the league will square off on Tuesday in the quarterfinals, with the higher seed getting home field advantage, before the final four teams travel to University Center for the semis and finals beginning on Friday. SVSU and GLIAC runner-up Wisconsin Parkside received byes to the semifinals.
Against Ashland, SVSU took a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes. Sophomore midfielder Alex Gloshen found the back of the net in the eighth minute on an assist from senior midfielder Michael Shaikly following a deflected shot to put the Cardinals up 1-0 almost instantly.
“To start with, Azaad (Liadi) put a ball into me, and my shot deflected off an Ashland defender,” Gloshen said. “It ended up falling down to (Shaikly), and he put the perfect chipped ball in for me, and I took a touch and put it in the back of the net.”
Minutes later, it looked as though SVSU was going to run away with the match, as Michael Hamilton connected with junior forward Liadi, who headed the ball in to put SVSU up two less than 10 minutes into the match.
“In the pregame talk, we encouraged the team to start the game with high energy and a positive attacking mentality,” head coach Andy Wagstaff said. “We managed to fulfill that challenge and got off to a very strong 2-0 lead after just 10 minutes.”
The goal was Liadi’s seventh of the year. He totaled five shots in the match, three on goal. Hamilton and Gloshen each added three shots of their own.
However, even as the Cardinals continued to put pressure on Ashland, things began to head south for SVSU, as the Eagles’ Justin Libertowski stole the ball from SVSU’s goalkeeper Lukas Betz in the 32nd minute and scored on an open net to bring Ashland back within one.
“We certainly took our foot off the gas,” Wagstaff said. “We gave them a poor goal by our standards, and that encouraged them to believe that they could get something out of the game.”
The game entered halftime and remained quiet until the 67th minute, when the Eagles completed the comeback, as Ashland’s Haruki Kimura scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at two goals apiece.
Even after the equalizer, Ashland continued to put pressure on the Cardinals, outshooting SVSU 9-4 in the second half. However, Betz held strong in goal, making five saves over the course of the contest.
Both teams frantically tried to end the game in regulation with a winning goal, but an 88th- minute header by SVSU junior midfielder Pablo Ortiz and a 90th-minute shot by Ashland’s Andrew Pearson were both saved, sending the game to overtime.
SVSU dominated play near the end of the first overtime, rattling off four shots in less than three minutes.
However, Ashland goal keeper Dimitrius Karousos held strong, making nine saves in the contest. The second overtime was much quieter, with just one shot from Liadi, ending the game in a draw.
“In the second half, they put us under pressure and seemed to want it more than us,” Wagstaff said. “They equalized, so we had to regroup in OT and try to take the game back again. Unfortunately, we couldn’t manage to win.”
SVSU will spend the next several days preparing for the GLIAC tournament, and await the winner of Northwood (No. 4 seed) and Northern Michigan (No. 5 seed), the first of two quarterfinal matches. The kickoff time for Friday’s GLIAC semifinal matches has yet to be announced.