Oneonta Sports Information Department
A Quick Look
You may as well just call SUNY Oneonta senior Witman Hernandez (Huntington/Walt Whitman), "Mr. Golden Goal".
Today, Hernandez worked his magic once again scoring a pair of goals including his 11th game-winner in the first overtime to lead the Red Dragons to a 3-2 victory over Babson College in the opening round of the NCAA Division III men's soccer tournament. The win for Oneonta puts them in the second round tomorrow on Red Dragon Field against Messiah College at 1pm. Messiah easily defeated Framingham State in the first game today 6-1.
"Another great crowd today and I know they got their money's worth," said Head Coach Iain Byrne. "It certainly was gut-wrenching for us. We were cruising at 2-0, then missed a sitter, and before you know it, we concede from two crosses and our backs are to the wall."
The Inside Story
The game-winning golden goal came in the 95th minute on a tremendous effort by Hernandez on a ball that was sent into the box by freshman Ian Zingaro (Liverpool/Liverpool). Zingaro's ball bounced once in the box and Hernandez was charging with a defender on his back. Hernandez somehow got his foot on it enough to work it free before taking one touch before sliding it into the goal as another defender was trying to stop it.
Byrne commented on the play, "It was a great pass from Zingaro for the winner and who else but Witman. He hasn't trained for 10 days, played on one leg today, and still scored two. He's unbelievable."
Oneonta (18-2) got on the scoreboard in the 11th minute of the match when sophomore defender Tristan Battistoni (Pleasant Valley/Arlington) finished off a play set up by classmate Jeremy Pantoni (Goshen/Goshen). In tight quarters, Pantoni chipped a ball that found its way over the top of the back line where Battistoni slipped behind the defense. Once there, he chipped the ball over the head of the Babson keeper for his second goal of the season.
The Red Dragons held a big advantage in shots in the opening half, 12-3 while taking its one-goal lead into the break.
Hernandez struck for the first time in the match and for the 24th time this season in the second minute of the second half. The play started on the left flank where freshman Lucas Fecci (Somers/Somers) sent a ball across the box that was hooking towards the outer right post of the goal. It ended up being retrieved by junior Roberto Ventura (Brentwood/Brentwood) who took it off the end line before pushing a pass in front of the goal. Hernandez battled a defender and the keeper and was able to force the ball across the goal line for a 2-0 lead.
Babson (14-6-2) didn't go quietly, as they turned up the pressure offensively eventually leading to a pair of scores to tie the game at two goals apiece.
The tandem of Eamon Keenan and Ben Holman teamed up on both goals for the Beavers. The first came in the 62nd minute on a corner kick. Holman served a perfect ball that Keenan got his head on to redirect it to the back of the goal.
The second goal came seven minutes later on a restart. After a foul was called on Oneonta, Holman was about 30 yards out towards the right side of the field. Holman sent a ball towards the goal in the left part of the box where Keenan was able to just get his head on the ball enough to slip it by Nate Hanna (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker).
One minute prior to Babson's second goal, Oneonta had an opportunity to go ahead by two goals again but was stymied. The play started with Pantoni leading classmate Arkadij Raiz (Oceanside/Oceanside) into the box where he slid a pass to a wide-open Nick Dillman. Dillman took a couple of touches and tried to push a shot under the keeper but was denied on a tremendous stop.
Fecci had one final scoring chance in the 74th minute that was defelected by the keeper over the goal from close range.
Just the Stats
Oneonta finished the match with a 27-13 advantage in shots including the only one that counted in overtime. Hanna recorded one save in 73 minutes of action before junior Francesco Scotti (Commack/Commack) came in to finish out the game making two saves.
Tomorrow's opponent enters the game 17-2-2 overall while riding a 19-game unbeaten streak. The two have met twice previously with Messiah holding a 1-0-1 record against Oneonta.
Tomorrow's winner will move on to the sectional round next weekend, as the field will narrow itself to the final four teams heading to the National semifinals in Greensboro, NC on Dec. 6-7.
Witman Hernandez's (Huntington/Walt Whitman) Game-Winner in the 95th Minute