In a tie game in overtime of a conference championship game, it helps to have the conference's Offensive Player of the Year and school record holder in career game-winning goals on your side. That's the exact scenario facing the Urbana University men's soccer team in the G-MAC Championship at Cedarville University on Saturday. With the score knotted at one in sudden death overtime, Urbana's Tyler Wason headed in the game-winner on a corner kick from teammate Mark Whittle.
The ensuing celebration lasted 15 minutes in the sleet and rain as the Blue Knights hoisted the first conference championship trophy in school history. Urbana's perfect run through the inaugural season of the G-MAC was capped by the perfect player. Wason's golden goal was his second of the season and fourth of his career. He is the all-time leader in game-winning goals at UU with 9 in his 2-year career.
Wason wasted no time delivering his team an early lead. The junior forward pounded a goal off the Yellow Jacket keeper from point-blank range in the sixth minute off a pass from midfielder Carl Peers. Urbana's defense, which did not allow a single goal to conference opponents during the regular season, held tough into the second half.
There, the Yellow Jackets finally ended the scoring drought thanks to an Urbana own goal in the 61st minute. On a free kick from just outside the penalty box, an Urbana defender tried to head the ball out, but it ricocheted into the back of the net for the equalizer.
The game remained tied at the end of regulation, setting the stage for a sudden death overtime. Less than six minutes into the extra frame, Urbana earned a corner kick. Ed Willoughby sent a cross into the box that G-MAC Freshman of the Year Aaron Burt just missed for a game-winner of his own. Burt's header deflected off a Cedarville defender, setting up another Urbana corner kick. This time, Whittle's kick found its mark. Waiting on the back post was Wason, who threaded the needle with a header that slipped under the arm of a Yellow Jacket defender.
Urbana improved to 10-7-1 with the win, a reversal of last season's 7-10-1 mark. Cedarville slipped to 16-3-1. Two of the Yellow Jackets' three losses came to their conference rivals in the Royal Blue and White. The loss was twice as devastating for the Yellow Jackets as it likely left Cedarville out of the NCAA D-II National Tournament. The team dropped from third to fifth in the regional rankings after last week's loss at Urbana, and another drop will be enough to keep the Yellow Jackets at home during next week's regional opener.