CANTON, N.Y. — Oneonta State won its 14th consecutive game Sunday in thrilling fashion as junior Alex Shkreli banged home a loose ball in the box in the 107th minute to lift the Red Dragons to the 2-1 double overtime victory against Rutgers-Camden on Sunday. Oneonta State will now join Calvin, Ohio Wesleyan and Montclair State in San Antonio during the weekend of Dec. 2-3 to play for a national title. The Red Dragons will face Calvin in its national semifinal.
Shkreli’s goal came off of an indirect kick after a foul was called about 25 yards out. Senior Nick Lange serviced the ball into the box that was headed toward the goal by classmate Raymond Fitzpatrick. The shot deflected off the left post and headed toward the center of the box where Shkreli was waiting to put the ball in the open goal.
“It was a brilliant weekend,” said head coach Iain Byrne of his team’s performance in the two games. “This is a culmination of a lot of effort from so many people.”
“We dominated most of the match and we were rewarded for our efforts. We showed great heart all year and especially today,” Byrne added.
“We started off the tournament with one goal and that was to make it to the final four,” Shkreli said. “We played our hearts out and we showed what Oneonta State soccer is about this weekend.”
With the game locked in a scoreless tie, the Rutgers (19-3-2) finally broke through in the 53rd minute as leading scorer Mitch Grotti notched his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Grotti was able to handle a loose ball where he was able to turn and free himself to fire a shot that went over the Oneonta State keeper’s head into the back of the goal.
Oneonta State nearly tied the score in the 66th minute off of a direct kick. Junior Dan Josepher sent a ball along the ground that was not handled by the Rutgers keeper cleanly. On the loose ball, Fitzpatrick hit the loose ball just wide of the left post.
Fitzpatrick would make the most of his next opportunity in the 77th minute on a loose ball that the Rutgers defense couldn’t clear. On a counter attack, junior Eric Fortier broke free in the box to the left of the goal and sent a ball across that was knocked around in front of the goal. It was Fitzpatrick that followed the play in and blasted the loose ball by the keeper for the tying goal.
“For us seniors, the journey continues,” Fitzpatrick said. “Our dream has become a reality and it’s indescribable. This team has proven time-and-time again that it has heart and this weekend we showed it.”
Oneonta State had all of the dangerous opportunities in the latter half of regulation and in both overtime periods. They finished the match with a 26-14 advantage in shots including 13 that were on goal.
The ball was mostly in the Rutgers end of the field for the opening 15 minutes. Oneonta State had some looks, but nothing dangerous as the Scarlet Raptor defense held the Red Dragons in check.
The first real dangerous opportunity for either squad came in the 18th minute. Sophomore Taylor McGrory had the ball inside the box to the left of the goal for the Raptors and he sent a ball across the front of Oneonta State keeper Maxwell Siegelman that hit the right post and deflected out. On the follow, Grotti took a shot that sailed over the goal.
Seven minutes later, Rutgers sophomore Zaiere Putmon rifled a shot that hit the left post and, on the ensuing action, Grotti sent a pass into the box that was headed over the goal.
The rest of the half was back-and-forth between the two teams with not many threatening scoring chances for either side. The two teams were deadlocked at 0-0 at the break.
Back in 1972, the Red Dragons played in the NCAA national championship game. Prior to qualifying for this year’s tournament, the men had not been in the NCAA tournament since 1975 and, at that time, they played in the division I tournament.
“It’s great to have Oneonta State on the national stage and we look forward to representing our school in San Antonio,” Byrne said.
“We have some work ahead of us, but we’ll be ready when they blow the whistle on Dec. 2.” Shkreli concluded.