OSKALOOSA — Joaquim Gil (Sr., Valencia, Spain, Master’s of Sports Management) stole not just the ball, but the entire show as his goal in the 90th minute lifted the William Penn men’s soccer team to a 1-0 upset over #3 seed MidAmerica Nazarene in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals Wednesday.
#7 seed William Penn (10-5-3) knocked off the Pioneers (13-2-3) for its second-straight upset of the tournament; WPU dropped #2 seed Missouri Valley last Saturday. The win advances the Statesmen to Saturday’s championship game against #1 seed Central Methodist at 6 p.m. in Fayette, Mo.
It will be the program’s first tournament finals appearance in program history. With CMU’s win over Grand View, the navy and gold also qualified for the NAIA National Championship with an automatic berth, its fourth-straight trip to nationals.
Saturday will be exactly two weeks since William and Penn and Central Methodist faced off in the regular-season finale, an outing that resulted in a 2-2 tie.
Wednesday’s WPU-MNU matchup was a defensive battle that featured just 16 shots, including only four on goal. The Statesmen, who were outshot 10-6, actually did not have an attempt on the goal through 89 minutes of the scoreless matchup.
That was until Gil stepped to the forefront. The Statesmen cleared a ball out of their penalty box and MNU reset to its back line for one final attack. A poor touch, however, by the Pioneer player put the ball at Gil’s feet and he dribbled it to the left corner of the box before launching a shot to the opposite post, just out of the reach of the goalkeeper with 24 seconds left.
MidAmerica Nazarene could not record the equalizer in the final ticks and the Statesmen celebrated yet again on a visiting pitch.
The physical bout included 28 fouls (14 for each side) and six yellow cards (five for WPU). Six different William Penn players managed a shot, while Harry Nash (Sr., Basingstoke, England, Sports Management) tallied three saves for the shutout, his fourth of the season and eighth for WPU. The eight shutouts ties the 2008 team for the most in school history.
“The guys dug deep and got a winning result against one of the best teams in the country, “said Head Coach Simon Brown. “We are happy to be competing for a conference championship in one of the toughest conferences in the country. Thank you to everyone on campus for the support.”