By THE HERALD-WHIG
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Hannibal LaGrange University men's soccer coach David Erskine nearly missed the biggest goal in Trojans history.
Tending to an injured Joao Junqueira on the sideline, Erskine looked up just as Victor Alvarez scored on a header in the 102nd minute to give the Trojans a 2-1 double overtime win over Rio Grande (Ohio) in an NAIA Sweet 16 matchup Monday in Montgomery, Ala.
"I had a hard team believing it went in," Erskine said. "We're extremely excited. It's a first for the program. The guys are elated. We will get to watch the team (Tuesday) that we will play on Wednesday."
The win moved HLGU (16-4) to the Elite Eight for the first time. The Trojans will play the winner of Tuesday's matchup between University of Science & Arts Academy of Oklahoma and Belhaven University (Miss.) in a quarterfinal at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Surviving an early onslaught was the key for HLGU. Logan Miller made 10 saves, including seven in the first half, to stave off an early surge by the Red Storm (16-3-1).
Rio Grande's Caio Cruz broke the tie with a goal in the 71st minute. Cruz snuck a shot between Miller's hands.
"They came out extremely hard and fast in the first 25 minutes, and we were able to survive," Erskine said. "To give up a goal that late was discouraging."
Rio Grande's goal forced the Trojans to shift their strategy.
"What we did after that, with 10 minutes left, was push an extra guy forward and play a 3-4-3," Erskine said.
We scored fairly quickly after that and switched back to a 4-4-2 to take it to overtime."
HLGU evened the game on a header goal from Junqueira in the 82nd minute off of a cross from Mikel Erdozain.
In overtime, the Red Storm outshot HLGU 3-2 and nearly won on a Mike Burney shot that ricocheted off the cross bar.
HLGU's win came nearly a year to the date of its 2-0 loss to Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in year's Sweet 16.