By Steve Keenan
From the depths of crushing disappointment, a champion was born.
Top-seeded WVU Tech got a goal from tournament MVP Dennis Fuerst off a pass from Raul Martin in the 73rd minute Saturday to defeat the University of Maine at Fort Kent 2-1 in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) men’s national soccer tournament at Trace Fork.
“I’m proud of everyone,” WVU Tech senior forward Joe Jackson said afterwards. “The thing that kept us going was our defeat in last year’s national final (a 2-1 setback to Briarcliffe College).
“For seven seniors, we knew it was our last (game). I’m happier than ever.”
He praised the school and community for getting “behind us.”
“I think the difference was when we went to the national championship last year and lost in the final,” Tech head coach Luis Cortell echoed Monday.
That setback gave the coaches and players the impetus to ratchet up their efforts, and Cortell said he immediately began recruiting to find players in key positions for this season.
Cortell said he first hugged his assistant coaches Saturday to congratulate them. “I want to thank all of my coaches,” he said.
He also said his thoughts went to the Maine-Fort Kent contingent, which he called “a great team” with a “first-class act” for a coach (Bill Ashby). “I’ve been in that situation; it’s really tough,” Cortell said.
Tech (18-2-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute when Glenroy Miller headed a goal off a crossing pass from Fuerst.
The Bengals (17-3) tied it at 1-1 early in the second half when Ben Kluvers buried a goal.
Cortell also had praise for those who expressed interest in the program this year.
“In the four years I’ve been at Tech, we never had such a good fanfare,” he said. Support came not only from Tech students and faculty, but also from the City of Montgomery. And Cortell said he was grateful for the following.
“As a coach, you always want to win every game,” said Cortell. “We lost two games (in the regular season), and those two losses let us realize losing is a fine line.
“That experience helped us in the two close games in the tournament.”
Tech initiated its championship run Thursday with a 7-0 defeat of the University of Maine at Machias.
Then, the Golden Bears survived a 3-2 overtime thriller over Lindenwood-Belleville Friday in the semifinals. Fuerst tallied the game-winner off a penalty kick.
The all-tournament squad consisted of Tech’s Jackson, Miller and goalkeeper Hunter Moles, who had several key stops for the Bears during the contest, Maine-Fort Kent’s Kluvers, Sebastian Arsonault and Kennard Brown, Berkeley College’s Camilo Montes, Briarcliffe College’s Gustavo CiFuentes, Rochester College’s Justin Kane, and Lindenwood-Belleville’s Cesar Acosta and Juan Pablo Santamaria.
Maine-Fort Kent claimed the women’s USCAA national title with a 3-2 triumph over Daemen College. Ariane Laberge-Pelletier secured the game-winning goal at the 5:47 mark of overtime.
For more, visit www.goldenbearathletics.com or www.theuscaa.com.
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