By Jason Hendrix
For The Fayette Tribune
ASHEVILLE, N.C. —
The WVU Tech men’s soccer national championship dreams ended Saturday when Cinderella-story Briarcliffe College defeated the No. 2 seeded Golden Bears 2-1 in front of a packed crowd at the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs got out to an early lead in the seventh minute of the match when Andres Zuluaga took a cross from Michael Knowles and placed the ball in the upper left corner of the net.
The Golden Bear offense made several runs at the goal but the Bulldog defense counter-attacked with long balls to the opposite end of the field.
In the 31st minute, Briarcliffe struck again when Edison Guayllasca passed to Giancarlo Luna, who deposited a shot to the lower right corner of the net.
Seconds later, the Bears placed a notch on the scoreboard after Briarcliffe’s goalkeeper received a yellow card for a foul made in the box. Freshman forward Dennis Fürst received a penalty kick and converted by successfully placing his shot in the lower right corner of the goal.
“Two early mistakes doomed us against a team that was able to fight really hard on the defensive end of the ball,” said Tech head coach Luis Cortell.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score, but today the ball just wouldn’t go in.
“No matter what, I am very proud of our team’s commitment, hard work and dedication on and off the field. We must now turn our attention to the classroom and work towards achieving our academic goals for the season.”
At the championship’s conclusion, three Golden Bears received all-tournament honors. Freshman Rodrigo Manzanares, junior forward Joe Jackson, and senior goalkeeper John Dunn all received the honor for their efforts during the tourney.
“Obviously, it’s an honor to receive this award,” Jackson said.
“At the end of the day, we would have liked to have had the larger award, but it’s nice to be recognized.
“Once again, the award is a team effort. I cannot do what I do without the people around me. I want to share this honor with the team and give them just as much credit and recognition to the award as I received.”
The Golden Bears returned back to Montgomery thankful for the opportunity to represent WVU Tech and already looking forward to the 2013 season and another run at the USCAA National Tournament cup.
“This has been a tremendous year for not only the men’s soccer program but for the whole university as a whole,” said assistant coach Shinya Turley.
“It has been an honor to work with Coach Cortell and all of the players. Every member of the team has worked so hard since the first week of August to get as far as we have. This group has been a fantastic team and has many great leaders.
“We will miss the three seniors and wish the best for the future. We will look to improve our team as we start preparing for next year. We will be returning most our core players and are looking to add more players that will help contribute to our success.
“Once again I want to congratulate the team and the school for a record-breaking season.”
The coaching staff credited the team’s success to the work of the individuals on and off the field and the leadership they exemplified.
“We have done an enormous amount of achievement this season,” said goalkeepers coach Peter Andersson.
“The team never showed a lack of interest and developed key factors to contribute to their success.
“I am mostly proud to say that the squad found the right type of motivation and spirit working as a unit throughout the championship tournament. It feel great knowing that we are able to leave the seniors with a sense of success.
“As the keepers’ coach, I’m most proud that Dunn got to show everyone that he is not only a great keeper but a leader and captain as well."
For more on WVU Tech athletics, visit http://www.GoldenBearAthletics.com.
(Editor’s note: Hendrix is the WVU Tech sports information director.)