MARION, Ind. -- There were three goals scored -- and two were own goals -- in a wild start to the Indiana Wesleyan University men's soccer victory over Huntington (Ind.) University in the Crossroads League Tournament First Round match at Wildcat Field.
And all of that took place in the first 13 minutes of action as No. 1-seed Indiana Wesleyan advances to the league semifinals with a 2-1 victory over No. 8-seed Huntington.
The first zany play to happen came in just the third minute of the match. Huntington midfielder Isaac Beal played a ball towards the Indiana Wesleyan net from near midfield. It began as an innocent play but a large hop on a hard field went right over IWU freshman keeper Josh Goepper. He race back for the ball with a Forester on his heels and caught the ball but his momentum carried him into the goal before he could get rid of the ball.
"Josh misread it and the ball bounced over him," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Mark Castro. "I don't know if he's really been in that situation before where's its coming over his head and trying to catch a ball. He probably should have punched it but his momentum just carried him in. Those kinds of things can happen."
With Huntington opening the contest with an own goal in just the third minute, Indiana Wesleyan answered seven minutes later…with an own goal of their own.
Junior midfielder Geoff Bowman took a corner kick that was played right in front of the goal. The ball was attempted to be played by a Huntington player but it deflected sharply back and into the goal for a 1-1 tie.
Less than three minutes after that, the Wildcats gained the lead on a beautiful play by Bowman and freshman forward Corey Lopez. Bowman played the ball past two Forester defenders as Lopez broke in-between them. He was face-to-face with the keeper and beat him to the far post for what would be the game-winning goal, his seventh winner of the season.
"I was pleased with the character of the team in the first half with how we responded being down a goal," continued Castro. "There is so many times in this type of game where Huntington scores a goal and they just sit back and we can't get a chance and don't find any rhythm. But our guys found a way. We get a corner and Geoff plays a great ball in and it deflects off a Huntington player. Then the goal by Corey was in a pretty good class on a ball that was played in by Geoff."
Indiana Wesleyan held a minimal 8-7 advantage in shots during the first 45 minutes as they held a 2-1 lead.
The second half did not see any scoring in which each team took four shots and both put just one on goal. It was a physical back-and-forth effort played mainly in the middle third of the field.
"We had a hard time dealing with the emotion of this game with how important it is," said Castro. "Obviously Huntington brought a lot of energy. They know if they don't win they are done. There was an extra bit of intensity there. It was a tough game for both teams, back and forth."
Over the final 10 minutes Indiana Wesleyan was able to gain a large portion of the possession and milk the clock for the victory.
"Josh Schultz and Dylan Bronkema did a nice job of just locking things down in the back," added Castro. "They did a nice job of diffusing things back there."
With the win Indiana Wesleyan will play at home next Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Crossroads League Tournament Semifinals. IWU hosts No. 4-seed Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) University at Wildcat Field. IWU defeated MVNU 2-1 in their first meeting on October 2 in Marion.