SAINT LEO, Fla. – It started with an opposing goal, and 105 minutes later ended the same way as the top-seeded Saint Leo men's soccer team was shocked by No. 4 seed Barry University 4-3 in double overtime in the semifinal round of the 2013 Sunshine State Conference Championships at a blustery University Field on Friday night.
In the second overtime, and despite holding what felt like a strong advantage after answering a two goal deficit earlier in the contest, the Lions (13-2-1) saw a thru ball catch the foot of Thomas Coombes who had to deal directly with Saint Leo 'keeper Manuel Schoenhuber at the top of the 18-yard box. Schoenhuber successfully dealt with Coombes, but the deflection landed square in front of Nico Gercke, who centered the ball with one touch and slotted it home uncontested.
The goal, coming in the 107th minute bookended Buccaneers (9-8-2) scoring as they opened up the contest with a second minute goal from Kris Wilkinson, who deposited a cross into net before fans were able to take their seats.
The 854-plus fans in attendance were treated to a fast-paced, high-scoring affair that saw Barry take a 3-1 lead early in the second half.
On its heels, Saint Leo responded as a conference champion would, with a calm and selective approach that eventually paid off when Lukas Cramer closed the deficit in the 57 minute to push momentum back to the side of the Lions.
Saint Leo really looked to have the match in its grasp when Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel took as cross from Bafou Sanogo and slid it home in the 77th minute. After that point, and for the remainder of regulation and the first overtime session, Saint Leo appeared to have the upper hand, all of which came to a halt when Gercke unloaded the game-winner.
Barry advances to the Championship Game to face archrival No. 3 Lynn University, who defeated No. 2 seed Rollins 2-1 earlier in the day. The Bucs and Fightning Knights will kick off at 1 p.m. in a game hosted by Saint Leo University.
The Lions will await NCAA selections which will be released on Sunday night. Saint Leo, currently second in the South Region, looks to get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.
For more on the Saint Leo men's soccer program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' Saint Leo Athletics on Twitter and Instagram.