Wake Forest's Zack Schilawski scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute and completed a triumphant return to his hometown of Cary, North Carolina, leading the Demon Deacons to the Division I Men's Soccer Championship December 16 with a 2-1 victory over Ohio State.
The Buckeyes opened the scoring when Roger Espinoza connected after a missed shot from teammate Doug Verhoff. Ohio State led, 1-0, for the remainder of the first half, a good omen for a team that was unbeaten when scoring first this season.
Wake Forest struggled to find its offense, but junior forward Marcus Tracy tied the score in the 66th minute off a cross from Cody Arnoux. The goal was Tracy's third of the 2007 College Cup, and his efforts earned him most outstanding offensive player accolades.
Ten minutes later, Schilawski netted his ninth goal of the season on a feed from Tracy, setting the stage for the hometown heroics.
"Marcus did the work and the ball bounced my way. I saw the keeper coming after it a little bit and I knocked it in," Schilawksi said.
Less than 100 miles away from the Wake Forest Campus in Winston-Salem, SAS Soccer Park was overflowing with Demon Deacons fans during the College Cup. It was the first men's soccer title in school history.
"It's an exciting moment," Wake Forest head coach Jay Vidovich said. "We've taken a lot of grief over the years about fading at the end of the season. To have Wake fans here and former players from my first year here is just an unbelievable feeling."
Fifth-seeded Ohio State, which was playing in the College Cup for the first time in school history, beat Louisville, defending champion UC Santa Barbara, Bradley and Massachusetts en route to the final.
"As you can imagine, they guys right now are crushed, as anyone would be. A couple days from now they'll reflect back on what we achieved this year and realize what an incredible experience it was and what a wonderful team we had," said Ohio State coach John Bluem.
The NCAA title is the eighth for the Wake Forest athletics department, which holds three titles in field hockey (2002, 2003, 2004), three in men's golf (1974, 1975, 1986) and one in baseball (1955).
Wake Forest beat Furman, West Virginia, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech before taking down Ohio State in the championship game. The Demon Deacons outscored opponents, 9-2, in the tournament behind a dominant effort from goalkeeper Brian Edwards, who was named most outstanding defensive player of the tournament.
Joining Tracy and Edwards on the all-tournament team were teammates Schilawski, Arnoux and Sam Cronin. Ohio State placed Espinoza, Verhoff, Eric Brunner and Casey Latchem on the all-tournament team, while Virginia Tech's Patrick Nyarko and Massachusetts goalkeeper Zack Simmons also earned honors.
Massachusetts 0 0 - 0
Ohio St. 0 1 - 1
Second half: OS - Eric Edwards (Xavier Balc, Roger Espinoza), 52:42.
Shots: Massachusetts 7, Ohio St.13.
Goalkeeper saves: Massachusetts 6 (Zack Simmons); Ohio St.3 (Casey Latchem).
Corner kicks: Massachusetts 2, Ohio St.4.
Virginia Tech 0 0 - 0
Wake Forest 0 2 - 2
Second half: WF - Marcus Tracy (Sam Cronin), 50:19; Tracy (Zack Schilawski), 82:41.
Shots: Virginia Tech 6, Wake Forest 8.
Goalkeeper saves: Virginia Tech 3 (Markus Aigner), Wake Forest 3 (Brian Edwards).
Corner kicks: Virginia Tech 9, Wake Forest 4.
Ohio St 1 0 - 1
Wake Forest 0 2 - 2
First half: OS - Roger Espinoza (Doug Verhoff), 12:02.
Second half: WF - Marcus Tracy (Cody Arnoux), 65:59; Zack Schilawski (Tracy), 77:13.
Shots: Ohio St.12, Wake Forest 12.
Goalkeeper saves: Ohio St.3 (Casey Latchem 2, Team 1); Wake Forest 4 (Brian Edwards).
Corner kicks: Ohio St.2, Wake Forest 4.