Joliet, Ill. - Junior midfielder Al Palar (Zabrze, Poland/Plainfield Central) notched the game-winning goal as Saint Xavier University converted a steal in front of the University of St. Francis (Ill.) net into a dramatic score in the fourth minute of the second overtime period to defeat the host Saints, 3-2, in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) men's soccer opener for both schools Friday night at Joliet Memorial Stadium in Joliet, Ill. Palar also recorded an assist in Friday's victory and has been on a tear as of late posting both a goal and an assist in each of his last two outings. With the win, the Cougars improve to 4-2 overall this season, while the Saints drop to 2-6. The loss was USF's first in three matches played thus far at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
St. Francis definitely did not make things easy Friday for Saint Xavier. The Cougars went ahead, 2-0, after a pair of first-half goals, the first on an unassisted shot by junior midfielder Samuel Sprauer (Chicago, Ill./Ohio State/Azusa Pacific/Glenbard North) in the game's 15th minute. The second score came in the 27th minute of play when senior midfielder Alan Bickel (Aurora, Ill./Northern Illinois/Waubonsie Valley) found the back of the net off a pass from Palar. However, USF fought back from the 2-0 halftime deficit with a pair of second-half goals to send the game into extra sessions. Both Saints' goals came in the final 28 minutes of regulation and were scored just 12 minutes apart, the game-tying goal coming in the 74th minute off a direct kick by freshman midfielder Luis Morales.
The first two halves were mirror versions with each team dominating a period. SXU dictated play in the opening half collecting five shots-on-goal and two scores compared to USF managing just a single shot-on-goal. The Saints turned things around in the second half, notching six shots-on-goal and scoring twice while blanking SXU on two shots-on-goal. Each team had one shot on goal in the first 10-minute overtime period and the game-winning goal was the only shot-on-goal in the second extra session.
Saint Xavier (4-2 overall/1-0 CCAC) returns home to host non-conference foe Aquinas College (Mich.) on Wednesday, September 22. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago.