TULSA, Okla. – UAB senior forward Babayele Sodade scored a header off a corner kick with just under two minutes remaining in regulation to life the 17th-ranked men’s soccer team to a 2-1 win at Tulsa on Friday night in Tulsa, Okla. The victory, coupled by South Carolina’s 2-2 tie vs. Kentucky, gives the Blazers a share of the 2011 Conference USA regular season title – the first since the 1999 campaign.
The Blazers finish the regular season with a stellar 12-3-3 overall mark and a 6-1-1 record in league play. UAB also stretched its unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1) as it enters play in the 2011 C-USA Tournament, which begins next week.
Sodade’s tally marked his league-leading seventh game-winning goal of the season and couldn’t have come at a better time. As time was winding down in regulation, the Windsor, Ontario native received a corner kick from sophomore Chase Wickham and buried the ball into the left side of the net to set off a wild celebration.
The Golden Hurricane (5-12, 1-7) never had another opportunity as time ran out and the Blazers celebrated their first C-USA regular season title in 12 years.
The match began without either team scoring a goal over the opening 45 minutes of play. But that all changed at the 57:11 mark when junior forward Kofi Gyawu recorded his second goal of the season and first since Sept. 4 (vs. UIC). The Atlanta, Ga. native, who has been battling an injury most of the season, received a 15-yard long pass from sophomore Moses Adeniran and drilled a header into the lower right corner to put the Blazers up 1-0.
However, just over three minutes later, at the 61:18 mark, Tulsa’s Corey Albertson used some nifty footwork to beat a defender at the top of the box and delivered an 18-yard strike past UAB goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski to even the score at 1-1.
Both teams trade possession until Sodade’s game-winner at the 88:05 mark of the contest.
Woszczynski finished the contest with two saves en route to his 12th win of the season.
The Blazers share the conference title with the Gamecocks, but it will be South Carolina who will receive the top overall seed on account of its 1-0 win at UAB back on Oct. 4, which was also the last time the Green and Gold dropped a contest.
With the No. 2 seed, UAB will received a first round bye in the 2011 Conference USA Tournament, held in Tulsa, Okla. The first round games will be played on Wed., Nov. 9, with the Blazers playing in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 11 against an opponent to be determined.