Julian Gonzalez gave the Tigers a win that they desperately needed on Friday evening with a goal in the second overtime period that lifted DePauw (4-2, 0-0) to a 2-1 victory over nationally ranked Thomas More College (4-2, 0-0).
The upset was the definition of a must-win game for the Tigers. After a less than impressive start to the season, the victory gives the Tigers a definite confidence booster as they prepare for conference play, and eventually, the postseason. It also advances DePauw’s winning streak to three.
“It was a huge win for the team,” Gonzalez said. “We really needed that to help come back after the rocky start to the season.”
Sophomore Jonathan Wheeler found the back of the net for the second time in his career and on only his second shot of 2014 to give DePauw the lead. It was Gonzalez who got credit for the assist on the 54th minute goal.
A little over 20 minutes later, Thomas More delivered the equalizer, scoring off of a set piece. Brian Runyon played the ball into the box forcing DePauw goalkeeper, senior Jake Pezzuto, to leave his feet in order to make the save. While in the air, contact was made with Pezzuto, causing him to lose control of the ball. With the net wide open, Jack Little seized the opportunity and tied the game at one.
“The goalkeeper is supposed to be protected when they go up to collect a ball as they are exposed like a receiver over the middle in football,” DePauw head coach Brad Hauter said. “Incidentally the official watched the game film and sent an email apologizing for missing the call. Thats the first time that has happened.”
After the blatant missed call, Hauter and the rest of the coaching staff focused on prepaing the team for overtime.
“My concern in this was that the goal was unjust and should not have been allowed,” Hauter said. “In moments like that it is easy for players to get caught up in the non-call and lose rhythm. Our guys showed great poise and mental toughness in settling into the ‘new’ game.”
It was less than one minute into the start of the second overtime when the Gonzalez finally broke through. The sophomore capitalized on a deflected shot from senior Andy Morrison, much like the Thomas More goal, and finished it off.
“Going into overtime, we knew that the other team was tired, so when I saw Andy breaking down the sideline, I knew I could beat my man to the rebound,” Gonzalez said.
The upset gave the Tigers a standout win to put on their resume come NCAA selection time.
“Beating a regionally ranked team is important for us in the event that we have to rely on a selection from the [NCAA] selection committee,” Pezzuto said.
After their disappointing loss to Franklin College a week and a half ago, the Tigers' only sure path to the national tournament will run through the North Coast Athletic Conference.
“Our goal is still to win conference and win the conference tournament,” Pezzuto said.
“If Franklin is the only real misstep we would have a chance [at an at-large bid] but our only guaranteed path into the tournament is to win the automatic bid from the NCAC,” Hauter said.
Only the top four teams in the conference advance from regular season play into the conference tournament at the end of the year. So the recent success has Hauter in a good mood as the team gets set to open conference play in a little under a week.
“The NCAC is at its most competitive level with incredible parity,” Hauter said. “This year more than any other it can be won by any of six or seven teams, so it is great to see us solidifying as a team prior to entering that part of the schedule.”
The Tigers will have to get through another more non-conference matchup, as they travel to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Wednesday night.