Fort Myers, Fla. – Michelangelo Dovidio’s golden goal in the 97th minute lifted the USC Upstate men’s soccer team into its first-ever A-Sun Men’s Soccer Championship game following a 4-3 victory in overtime Saturday evening over the top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles from FGCU Soccer Complex.
Upstate (7-6-1) earned its first win in school history over Florida Gulf Coast and will now face second-seed North Florida next Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in Jacksonville with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. North Florida defeated third-seeded Lipscomb 2-1 in overtime Saturday at Hodges Stadium.
Dovidio capped another late comeback by the Spartans in Championship play seven minutes into the first overtime period with his third goal of the season. Gordon Wild passed the ball back to the top of the 18-yard box from the far goal line where Dovidio settled with it. His shot went through several Upstate and Eagle players, making it past a diving Nathan Ingham to his right and into the net.
Wild and Leon Schwarzer tested Ingham early in the first half with back-to-back scoring chances in the 7th and 8th minutes of play. Ingham denied both opportunities with a pair of saves.
Sylar Wilks gave Florida Gulf Coast (7-4-3) the 1-0 lead shortly thereafter in the 11th minute with his fifth goal of the season. Dylan Sacramento was credited with the assist as his through ball up the middle made its way to Wilks, who provided one touch and beat Spartan goalie Hassan Haddad low to his right.
Lukas Sommer equalized for the Spartans at 1-1 in the 27th minute with his first career goal at Upstate. A cross was deflected back to the top of the 18-yard box and Sommer was there to put his one-timer into the open net.
The second half saw an offensive explosion as both teams combined for four goals over the final 19 minutes to send the match into overtime tied 3-3.
Albert Ruiz started the scoring for the Eagles just as the contest entered the 68th minute with his seventh goal of the season as Wilks and Aaron Guillen earned the assists. Guillen played the ball back to Wilks, who proceeded to cross the ball into the box where Ruiz one-timed it past Haddad from three yards out.
Wild staged the Spartans first rally of the second half as his NCAA Division I-leading 16th goal of the season tied the score at 2-2 in the 73rd minute. Schwarzer chipped the ball over the FGCU defense to Wild and he finished by placing his shot past Ingham left side.
David Robledo put the Eagles back ahead 3-2 in the 80th minute on his second goal of the season with Ruiz receiving the assist. Ruiz crossed the ball into the box where Haddad ran out to punch it away. The ball went to Robledo who deflected it in with his chest to put FGCU in front by one.
Schwarzer sent the game into overtime with his late goal in the 87th minute to even the score again, this time at 3-3. The sophomore had the ball bounce back to him 20 yards out and rifled his shot just under the crossbar for the equalizer.
Wild attempted a team-high four shots for Upstate and attempted two on-goal along with Schwarzer. Haddad contributed four saves.
Sacramento led Florida Gulf Coast with five shots, while Ruiz and Miguel Jaime posted two on-goal attempts each. Ingham finished the game with two saves.