MILWAUKEE - Suad Suljic scored the golden goal in the 96th minute to send the Milwaukee men's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Eastern Illinois in overtime Tuesday night at Engelmann Stadium.
The MKE Panthers (7-6-2) dominated play against the EIU Panthers (3-8-4) all evening, but it took Suljic's header at the 95:36 mark to send Milwaukee to the exciting victory.
"We played well from start to finish – first and foremost," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "We wanted to have a good performance and the guys worked hard and they fought. We had a good plan and we stuck to it. We made it difficult for ourselves but created a lot of opportunities."
The winner came on a pretty buildup, with Alex Sykes dropping the ball off to Sean Holmes on the left wing. Holmes sent in a perfect serve, where Suljic was there to do the rest – heading the ball inside the left post to set off the on-field celebration with his teammates.
"We had to be patient," Kelderman said. "Eastern is a team that put a lot of numbers behind the ball. They were very defensive tonight and it's not easy. The more the game goes on and lingers on, tied, it's difficult. But the guys stuck to it and we prevailed."
The goal gave Milwaukee a much-deserved result after dominating the scoresheet all night. In all, the totals overwhelmingly read in the home team's favor – 18-to-3 in shots, 9-to-2 in shots on goal and 11-to-0 in corner kicks.
Following a slow start to the game, Suljic was also there early to set up the first tally. He took a pass from Shawn Azcueta and fed the ball into the box. Evan Conway was there to corral it, find his footing and calmly finish for his fifth goal of the season at the 17:33 mark to open the scoring.
It stayed that way until halftime despite a few golden chances for the Panthers. Conway nearly had a strike in the 12th minute, getting his foot on a long free kick from Francesco Saporito that was saved at the line.
The team was also unable to take advantage of a PK situation, with a brilliant save from EIU keeper Jonathan Burke keeping the game at 1-0 in the 34th minute.
Heading into the second, Milwaukee had yet to give up a shot on goal defensively. EIU took advantage of just its second shot attempt of any kind in the 56th minute, equalizing on a header.
"They caught us on one play, on a restart," Kelderman said. "But it was a good performance and definitely a result that was well-earned. The guys responded well. They kept plugging away. They were positive, kept pushing each other and stayed the course."
Suljic nearly had padded the lead in the 48th minute, taking a pass and quickly turning and firing a curling blast to the upper corner of the goal, only to see Burke get enough of it to push it just over the cross bar.
Milwaukee had a crack late on a Conway header in the 89th and Davis Green nearly played hero just in front of Suljic – sending a blast after a corner kick was cleared to his feet whizzing over the bar in the 95th minute.
The 18-shot outburst was led by Conway, who finished with seven shot attempts (4 on goal). Suljic added five (3 on target) and Vuk Latinovich had a pair.
In goal, Freddy Lorenzen was credited with one save in picking up the victory.
The team returns to Horizon League play to close out the regular season, with the final home game on tap next this Saturday. They play host to Detroit Mercy for a contest that will also serve as "Senior Night", with the team honoring the seniors on the roster in a pregame ceremony. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.