Golden Bears embraced role as Cinderella in playoff run
For most of the Cinderellas in the sports world, the clock usually strikes midnight, abruptly ending the team's fairy tale.
However, the bell never tolled midnight this time around for Cinderella, leaving the WVU Tech men's soccer team on the outside looking in.
The No. 2-ranked Golden Bears' run at the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament Cup championship ended with a 2-1 loss Sunday to unranked Briarcliffe College (N.Y.) at John B. Lewis Soccer Complex in Asheville, N.C.
"Two early mistakes doomed us against a team that was able to fight really hard on the defensive end of the ball," said Tech coach Luis Cortell. "We had plenty of opportunities to score, but the ball just wouldn't go in."
Briarcliffe got on the board first in the 6th minute when Andres Zuluaga put the ball in the upper-left corner of the goal on a cross from Michael Knowles.
The Bulldogs struck again in the 31st minute when Giancarlo Luna pushed a shot past Golden Bears keeper John Dunn to take the 2-0 lead.
Seconds later, Tech cut the lead in half when Dennis Furst converted a penalty kick after Briarcliffe's Gustavo CiFuentes received a yellow card for a foul committed inside the penalty area.
"No matter what, I am very proud of our team's commitment, hard work and dedication on and off the field," added Cortell. "We must now turn our attention to the classroom and work toward achieving our academic goals for the season."
At the conclusion of the game, Tech freshman Rodrigo Manzanares, junior Joe Jackson and senior John Dunn received all-tournament honors.
"Obviously, it's an honor to receive this award," commented Jackson. "At the end of the day we would have liked to have the larger award, but it's nice to be recognized. I want to share this honor with the team and give them just as much credit and recognition to this award as I received."
The Golden Bears (18-2-1) will return most of their core players, graduating only three seniors from the team — Dunn, Jordan Brooksher and Tyler Fabian.
"This has been a tremendous year for not only the men's soccer team but for the university as a whole," said assistant coach Shinya Turley. "We will miss the three seniors and wish them the best for the future. We will look to improve our team as we start preparing for next year."