SAINT LEO, Fla. – Barry University’s men’s soccer team earned the right to call themselves champions Sunday afternoon after they defeated their rival Lynn University 6-5 in penalty kick shootout after a 2-2 game at University Field in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament final.
The Buccaneers (9-8-3) battled all season long to get to this point after earning the #4 seed in the tournament. Through all of the adversity, the Bucs prevailed to claim the tournament crown for just the second time in the program's history.
An important piece to their postseason run was the emergence of junior Kris Wilkinson and the spectacular play of senior Johnny Rodrigues between the pipes. The English midfielder tallied five goals in three tournament games to lead the way for the Buccaneers.
After one half of play the game remained a scoreless tie. Both teams were able to create opportunities but neither was able to capitalize.
In the 47th minute of the match, Kris Wilkinson broke through to give the Bucs the 1-0 lead on a strike to the right.
Riding a 1-0 lead the Bucs seized control of the match and 11 minutes later the Bucs extended the deficit to two goals on, who else, but Wilkinson’s second goal of the match.
With a two goal lead, the Buccaneers seemed to have complete control of the match, but the defending national champions ‘Knights wouldn’t go down easy.
Michael O’Neil drove a shot off the crossbar and a controversial call where the linesman signaled that the ball had crossed the line into the net cut the deficit to 2-1.
Then, with just over six minutes to go, O’Neil delivered another dagger on a deflected shot that found the back of the net to tie the championship match at 2-2.
Neither team scored in the first overtime. In the second extra period, the Buccaneers threatened when Jack Fisher put a strong header on frame, but Kevin Shields came up with the save. Defensively, Rodrigues was tested throughout the overtime period, but the Brazilian keeper came up big time and again to keep the match knotted at two.
Twenty minutes of overtime was not enough to decide and a penalty kick shootout decided the match.
The Buccaneers sent Rodrigues to kick things off and he delivered to go up 1-0. Pablo Georgakopoulos, Kris Wilkinson, Nico Gercke and Patrick Drmola each delivered on their PK attempt, but the ‘Knights matched the Bucs shot for shot.
After five attempts it remained 5-5 and the Bucs turned to Thomas Coombes. Like he had all season, Coombes delivered a strike without hesitation to give the Bucs the advantage once again.
With a chance to seal the victory, it was only fitting that the match came down to Rodrigues.
A fifth-year senior, All-American and one of the best keepers in program history, Rodrigues dove to his right and came up with one of the biggest saves of his career to dash the ‘Knights hopes and capture the SSC Tournament title for the second time in his career.
Barry last won the tournament title in 2009, Rodrigues’ freshman season. Rodrigues, Jack Fisher and Gercke were all named to the All-Tournament team. Wilkinson was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scoring five of the Bucs’ seven goals in the three games.
2013 SSC Men’s Championships All-Tournament Team
- Nico Gercke – Barry
- Johnny Rodrigues – Barry
- Jack Fisher – Barry
- Michael O’Neill – Lynn
- Matthais Jaenicke – Lynn
- Javier Lopez Mochon – Lynn
- Bafou Sanogo – Saint Leo
- Maxmilian Schulze-Geisthovel – Saint Leo
- Philipp Schad – Rollins
- Cole Clingerman – Florida Southern
Most Outstanding Player – Kris Wilkinson, Barry