LOUISVILLE, KY. -- Louisville forward Nick DeLeon headed home the golden goal with just 2:18 left in the second overtime, lifting the 12th-seeded Cardinals (13-6-2) to a wild, 3-2 win against Bradley (15-6-2) in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Sunday night at Cardinal Park.
Louisville advances to the third round for a Sunday game at tournament No. 5 seed Maryland (14-3-3), which dispatched of West Virginia, 4-0, in the second round.
The Braves and Cardinals battled through a wild finish on a soggy night at Cardinal Park as they combined for three goals in the final 3-minutes, 52-seconds of regulation to set up the extra time sessions.
Following a scoreless first half which saw the Braves hold their hosts without a shot on goal, Bradley took a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute when sophomore midfielder Scott Davis netted his first career goal. The scoring sequence started with a corner kick by Bryan Gaul. Jochen Graf flicked the header and Wojciech Wojcik left the ball for Davis, whose shot from the top of the 18 found its way through traffic inside the right post at 54:05.
Louisville turned up the pressure and outshot the Braves 9-2 over the next 30 minutes before breaking through in a big way.
Colin Rolfe evened the game at 86:08 with a great individual effort on the right side of the penalty area, then set up Kenney Walker with the go-ahead goal just 30 seconds later, the second-shortest span between goals ever by a Bradley opponent. Walker’s left-footed shot from 15 yards out was able to roll past diving Bradley keeper Brian Billings inside the left post at 86:38.
Reminiscent of Bradley’s “Miracle-at-Maryland” win in the third round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament when the Braves scored twice in the final 2:46 to force overtime in an eventual 3-2 upset, Bradley again fought until the end Sunday. With everyone forward, including Billings, for a long throw from the far side, the 6-foot-5 Gaul rose above the fray to nod home the tying goal at the right post with just 26 seconds remaining in regulation.
Gaul’s 11th goal of the year came with the least amount of time remaining for a Bradley equalizer in program history, nine fewer seconds than Chris Cutshaw’s tying goal at Maryland in 2007.
But in an eerily-similar twist, DeLeon’s game-winner resembled Cutshaw’s double-overtime winner in 2007 at College Park. Working the right flank, Andrew Farrell played the ball ahead to Brock Granger, who chipped a cross into the penalty area, where DeLeon made a running, off-balance leap and got just enough to direct the ball past Billings at 107:42.
Bradley’s 15 wins in 2011 matched the second-best total in program history and the team’s .696 winning percentage is the third-best in program history. For the first time in program history, the Braves made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and Bradley advanced to the second round for the second time in six overall postseason appearances.
Courtesy Bradley Sports Information