Gercke Sends Men's Soccer Into SSC Tournament Championship

Gercke Sends Men's Soccer Into SSC Tournament Championship
Buccaneers swarm Nico Gercke after delivering game-winning goal in 2-OT. Photo by Mike Carlson.

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Barry University’s men’s soccer team defeated tournament host and No. 7 ranked Saint Leo, 4-3, in an exciting 2-OT match Friday night.

The Buccaneers (9-8-2, 5-3 SSC) could not have scripted a better start. Kris Wilkinson scored two minutes into the match on a cross from senior Joong Kim to put the Bucs ahead 1-0.

In what was a hard fought and physical contest by both teams throughout, Barry maintained the 1-0 until the 22nd minute when Bafou Sanogo evened the match at 1-1 with a header into the top right corner.

However, not even a minute later, Nico Gercke answered with a header to beat Manuel Schoenhuber on a free kick service from Shaun Herselman and the Bucs reclaimed the lead, 2-1.

Barry carried the lead into the half and picked right back up where they had left off in the second period.

In the 52nd minute, Patrick Drmola played a great ball to a slashing Wilkinson and the junior delivered with his second goal of the match on a strike from 15 yards out.

Trailing 3-1, the regular season champions didn’t go away quietly. The Lions (13-2-1) out-shot the Bucs 9-4 in the second half.

Saint Leo struck in the 56th minute to pull within one, and Max Geisthovel found the equalizer in the 76th minute for the Lions.

Six minutes into the first overtime, the Lions nearly capitalized on a great opportunity, but Johnny Rodrigues came up with the biggest of his five saves to punch the ball over the crossbar, keeping the game tied.

The game remained knotted up at three with neither team able to capitalize on a golden goal in the first overtime period.

With less than four minutes left to play in the second overtime, it looked as if a penalty kick shootout would decide the match.

Keeper Johnny Rodrigues sent the ball deep into Lions’ territory and connected with Thomas Coombes who made a run past the defense. Coombes dribbled the ball up the right side and brought Schoenhuber out of position and then passed the ball back into the middle to find an open Gercke who ripped the game-winning goal, sending the Bucs into the championship match.

The Bucs have won three of their last four and are playing some of their best soccer down the stretch. With the win the Bucs will now face rival Lynn Sunday afternoon in a battle for the Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship. Barry last claimed the tournament crown in 2009.

Live-stat and video broadcast of the match will be available. The Bucs and Fighting Knights have played twice thus far this season with each team winning on its home turf.