After 28 seasons leading various college programs, Wheaton men’s soccer coach Michael Giuliano is set to coach the final game of his college career Saturday.
It could be a heck of a swan song.
Wheaton (Ill.) upended previously-unbeaten Oneonta State (N.Y.) 3-2 in double overtime Friday in the NCAA Division III men’s soccer Final Four at Swope Soccer Village.
Wheaton, 22-3, will play Tufts (Mass.) for the NCAA Division III championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Twenty-eight years of college coaching ends tomorrow,” Giuliano said. “But what a cool place to end it.”
And what a dramatic way to earn one more game.
After the teams flip-flopped leads in regulation, Wheaton forward Stephen Golz finished off a set piece from Noah Anthony for the game-winner, which came with six minutes left in the second sudden-death overtime period. Golz notched his team-leading 21st goal of the season when his header crept inside the left post.
“I was just able to get a little piece on it, and luckily it skidded in,” Golz said. “It wasn’t the prettiest goal, by any means, but we’ll take it, of course.”
Oneonta forward Cory Santangelo believed he produced the game-winner with five minutes left in regulation — and it was initially ruled that way — before two referees conversed and ultimately waved off the goal, ruling Santangelo kicked the ball out of Wheaton keeper Matt Paprocki’s hands.
Oneonta, 18-1-2, vehemently argued Paprocki never had both his hands on the ball.
“Honestly, it’s an absolutely disgrace,” Oneonta coach Iain Byrne said. “... When you come to a Final Four, you need to have the best officials in the country at these games. These guys today were worthless.
“They could have argued they deserved to win the game on merit, but to be robbed like that, it’s just very difficult to take.”
Tufts (Mass.) 3, Ohio Wesleyan 0
An unlikely victory against two-time defending champion Messiah College landed Tufts its first ever spot in the NCAA Division III men’s soccer Final Four.
That victory, senior Gus Santos says, ignited a bevy of momentum within the team that showed no signs of slowing down Friday afternoon.
Tufts rolled over Ohio Wesleyan 3-0 for a spot in Saturday’s championship game against Wheaton.
“At this point, we’re thinking, ‘Why not us?’” Santos said.
Santos scored a pair of second-half goals — his eighth and ninth of the season — but defender Matt Zinner set the tone with his first goal of the season less than two minutes after the opening whistle.
Tufts, 15-2-4, allowed only three shots on goal, all of which were easily handled by keeper Scott Greenwood for the shutout.
After entering the tournament ranked 11th in the nation with a 0.52 goals against average, Tufts has moved through the bracket with four shutouts in five matches.
“I think our guys came out and played with great energy and commitment and took the game to Ohio Wesleyan,” Tufts coach Josh Shapiro said. “You have to believe if you’ve come the road that we’ve come, we have as good of a shot as anyone.”