By Leon Devance, Sports Editor for The Current
Friday night was quite a night for Thomas Mihalczo, junior, political science, and his teammates on the University of Missouri – St. Louis Tritons men’s soccer team.
Back/middle-fielder Mihalczo headed the ball in the net, scoring his first goal this season on an assist from mid-fielder Ajdin Dedic, senior, nursing. Mihalczo scored the goal at the 1 minute 23 second into overtime. In doing so, he beat the Rockhurst Hawks’ goalie Ryan Bass and sent UMSL to a 1-0 win on the Don Dallas soccer field.
The Hawks came into the game as the fifth-ranked team in the Great Valley Lakes Conference. UMSL improved to 4-2 overall and holds a 3-1 record in the GLVC. Rockhurst fell to 4-1 in the GLVC, 5-1 overall.
UMSL has also won 4-0 against Missouri S & T, who was ranked seventh, making this the second season that UMSL has defeated a top 10 team.
Rockhurst had a 15-8 advantage in shots, including an 8-3 on shots on goal. UMSL goalkeeper Patrick Ream, senior, criminology and criminal justice, stopped eight shots in the win.
Mihalczo, who recorded career highs last year against Maryville in goals, said that he was determined to secure the win against Rockhurst.
“It was one of those times when you just react,” Mihalczo said. “I just went for it and luckily [the ball] went in. This team takes a lot of pride in playing well and it is very thrilling to get a win at home in front of the fans.”
UMSL coach Dan King noted that the Tritons need to stay focused with eight consecutive GLVC conference games starting against William Jewell at home. Next week, UMSL opposes Missouri S & T and Drury on the road.
Other conference games include matches against Lewis, Wisconsin – Parkside, Indianapolis, St. Joseph, Bellarmine and Quincy. King believes that Quincy will give UMSL a stiff challenge because the Hawks are a disciplined, focused team.
“We have a long way to go, and we have to stay disciplined,” King said. “If we take care of the little things, we should be all right. But I am proud of my guys tonight for staying focused.”
UMSL has certainly remained disciplined in recent wins against Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
In the Tritons 5-0 win against Western Kentucky, three freshmen were essential to victory. Forward Jared Swierk, freshman, undeclared, scored twice. Forward Chris Pearson, freshman, secondary education, scored once more. Tyler Collico, freshman, business administration, and Dennis Bayens, sophomore, accounting, scored the other two goals for UMSL.
UMSL out-shot Western Kentucky with a score of 19-10 and had 12 shots on goal. Collico attempted a team record of three shots on goal, and 14 players attempted one shot on the goal.
If the Tritons practice the little things that King values, more opportunities will come their way.
Mihalczo recalled that on his game-winning shot his teammates stayed confident and poised against Rockhurst in overtime.
“We stayed organized, and our communication was good,” Mihalczo said. “This game was a tight one and we did not receive a lot of chances. This is my first game-winning shot, and I am just glad that I capitalized on the opportunity.”