Joseph Sanchez feared the worst, but hoped for the best in Adelphi’s NCAA Division II second-round match with Goldey-Beacom on Saturday night.
Despite dominating the Lightning from the opening whistle, the Panthers failed to cash in on their countless scoring opportunities.
“It’s a crazy game, a roller coaster of emotions, honestly,” Sanchez said. “I thought we started off all over them. We didn’t score our chances and I thought it was going to haunt us at the end.”
Sanchez made sure it didn’t, striking for the winning goal with 2:31 remaining in sudden-death overtime to propel the Panthers to a 2-1 victory at a cold Motamed Field.
The senior midfielder drilled a hard shot from the top of the box into the lower left corner past goalkeeper Suhail Bismilla off an Andre De Giorgi feed for his third goal this season.
“Sanchez’s got an engine,” head coach Carlo Acquista said. “That guy figures it out. He might make a mistake here or there, but he always gets to the right spots.”
De Giorgi, frustrated by Bismilla for most of the match, made Sanchez’s heroics possible with 1:56 remaining in regulation. The senior forward slotted home a Federico De Oliveira pass for his 12th goal from 6 yards to equalize.
“It let us have a second life,” Sanchez said. “We all had the belief we were going to win it in overtime.”
After benching him for the past few games, Acquista gave De Giorgi a second life Saturday night.
“Andre scored a lot of goals early on,” he said. “He went cold for quite a while. For the last week of training and his commitment to the little extras to do on the field, we felt like he was going to have a great game today.”
The Panthers (14-2-2) will play rival LIU Post, 2-1 winners over District of Columbia earlier in the day, in the third round Thursday or Friday in Charleston, West Virginia.
The match essentially was a 108-minute power play for the Panthers, which included 90 minutes of regulation and almost 18 minutes overtime. They did everything but find the back of the net, outshooting Goldey-Beacom, 34-5.
Yet, the Lightning (17-5-1) struck first against the run of play at 20:43. Chahin Aghrim, latching on to a Mateus Silvestre pass, slipped the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Raymond Leto for the lead.
“It was kind of frustrating,” Sanchez said. “That’s how soccer is. Sometimes the ball doesn’t want to go in. In the first half, I thought that was probably our best half this year.”
Added Acquista: “I felt we were never out of the game, but I was nervous, absolutely, because you never know with the game of soccer.”