PARKVILLE, Mo. - The Park University men's soccer team provided plenty of excitement in the 2017 season opener, a 3-1 win over Briar Cliff University on Wednesday evening at Julian Field.
Park (1-0-0) did not let the three-day delay to the season opener dampen the team's spirits as the Pirates scored three goals in the first game of the campaign for the second-straight season, finished off by a thrilling final minute of play.
Holding a 2-1 lead in the final minute, the Pirates were pushed back into their own penalty area after a foul in front of the Park bench. Briar Cliff (1-1-0) pushed its entire 11 players into the attacking third, exposing the goal on the other end.
Park was able to clear the free kick, setting off a foot race toward the other end. Adeeb Qaisi (JR/Hebron, Palestine) had the early advantage in the sprint toward the other end before being dragged down by a Briar Cliff defender. However, the referee played the advantage as Jesse Jasso (JR/Kansas City, Mo.) collected the loose ball and slotted the ball into the empty net.
Both teams recorded goals in the first half to remain level at the break. Juan Carlos Salazar (JR/Bogota, Colombia) spun his defender after a pass from Bernardo Badillo-Garcia (JR/Las Vegas, Nev.) and rounded the goalkeeper to open the scoring at 24:18. Briar Cliff leveled the score when Rodrigo Oliveira poked in a loose ball after Javier Valle had struck the post with a shot.
Though Briar Cliff claimed a 7-5 edge in shots over the final 45 minutes, Park created the game-winning chance with just under nine minutes remaining. Daniel Jackson (SR/Nottingham, England) freed himself on the left wing and fired a low cross toward the front of goal. Isaias De La Torre (SR/Dodge City, Kan.) stepped into the path of the pass and tapped his shot past Charlie Enright from close range.
Valle had an excellent chance to equalize for the Chargers with five minutes left, but curled a left-footed shot around the post. He had one more opportunity off a free kick with one minute to play, but Thalu Masindi (JR/London, England) made the last of his four saves to preserve the lead.
Park continues non-conference play in its first road contest of the season this Saturday, September 2 at Graceland University at 2:30 p.m.