Senior Jumol Harewood celebrating his game winner with Senior Marcos Mendez
In the Opening Round of the NAIA National Championships, Southern Poly would host
Menlo College from Atherton, California. Southern Poly came into the match with a
15-2-2 overall record while Menlo was 13-3-1. This would be the third consecutive appearance for Southern Poly in the NAIA Men's
Soccer National Championships while it was Menlo's first appearance.
The match would get off to a flying start as Southern Poly would attack the Menlo goal early and often. Senior Jumol Harewood, Senior Sean Grisham and Junior Emeka Maduka would put together a Southern Poly attack that would out shoot the Oaks from Menlo, 14-0 in the first half. It was a one sided affair in which Southern Poly would pepper the goal, hitting the cross bar, the post, and the Menlo keeper. Even with all the pressure on the Menlo goal, Southern Poly wouldn't be able to score and the halftime score would be 0-0.
The second half saw exactly the same as Southern Poly would come out firing again. They would amass numerous scoring attempts of combination play on top the box, corners and individual efforts but all would come without a result as they would be unable to score. With 15 minutes gone in the second half, Senior Diego Nicholson would pick up his second yellow card and be sent off, forcing Southern Poly to play with one less man for the rest of the match. Even with the man advantage, Menlo would still be unable to mount an attack on the Southern Poly goal. The Hornets would build up play and threaten many more times before the end of regulation, all without success.
The match would go to two 10 minute golden goal overtimes. The first 10 minute period Southern Poly would again come out flying, pushing for the winner, but would be unable to find it. After repeated shots and crosses, the ten minutes would again end scoreless.
"You could see the extreme level of frustration on everyone's face. We did everything right, except score. This game could have been one of the nightmares that so many soccer coaches go through. We played very well, but didn't have anything to show for it," said Hornet Head Coach, Kom Momeni.
The second overtime would finally produce a winner. With 3:12 left in the match, Senior Chris Szalwinski would head a cleared ball back into Harewood. Harewood would turn with his chest and with the goalie charging slip they ball while stretching at full length beyond the keeper. It was the goal that would advance Southern Poly to their third consecutive Sweet 16. The goal was Harewood's 15th of the year, his seventh game winning goal.
"I am proud of the boys for winning their final home match of the year. It was a great way to send off our senior class with such a dramatic ending," said Coach Momeni. "Getting back to the Sweet 16 for a third straight year is so exciting, and these seniors are the driving force behind that."
Southern Poly will travel to Orange Beach, Alabama where the 16 teams left in the tournament will meet to decide a national champion. Southern Poly will face Bethel University from Tennessee in the next round. When they met last year during the regular season, it was a scoreless draw. The match will take place Tuesday, November 29th at 2:30 CST.