BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With 27 seconds remaining in the first overtime period freshman Rami Dajani headed a ball past Indiana’s Michael Soderlund to give the No. 18 UAB men’s soccer team (3-0-0) a 2-1 victory against No. 8 Indiana (1-2-0), the defending national champions, on Friday night at West Campus Field.
“The biggest thing is this shows our team that we can play against the very best,” head coach Mike Getman stated. “Indiana is a fantastic team. The defending national champions, they came into the year ranked No. 1. That was not an accident. They are that good, but our guys showed to themselves and everybody that we can play with anybody in the country.”
In front of a West Campus Field-record crowd of 3,205, redshirt junior Alex Clay pounded a shot on Soderlund in the final minute of the first overtime period. Soderlund could not collect the save and Dajani headed it past the Hoosiers’ keeper, sealing the win for the Blazers.
“Honestly, out all of my years playing soccer, it was, for sure, the best moment I’ve ever been apart of,” explained Dajani. “You can’t beat that feeling, at all.”
After a scoreless first half, filled with great defending, the 2012 national champions took a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute. Indiana’s A.J. Corrado corralled a pass from Nikita Kotlov inside the Green and Gold box and gently placed it past the outstretched arms of UAB’s Raphael Ville.
The Blazers would not pack it in, though. Sophomore Freddy Ruiz presented the team with its first real scoring opportunity of the match. Ruiz clanked one off the crossbar in the 73rd minute, missing the equalizing goal by only a few inches.
When it seemed all but over, an Indiana foul was called inside the Hoosiers’ box in the final minute of regulation. Junior Diego Navarrete lined up for a penalty kick with 46 seconds remaining in the second stanza. Navarrete buried the shot past Soderland, tying the match with only seconds to spare.
In the overtime session, UAB came out firing. Soderlund kept the Blazers at bay, recording his only two saves of the game. Then finally, the host team broke through and tallied the game-winner.
“What an awesome crowd,” added Getman. “I’ll tell you in a game like this, the crowd makes a difference. We are tired. Indiana is making us chase a little bit. They are up 1-0, but the crowd is going and just gives the guys the extra boost. It keeps the energy flowing. I really think the crowd is the difference in the match tonight.”
UAB will return to the pitch on Friday, Sept. 13 when they host conference-rival Charlotte in the UAB “Soccer for a Cure” Classic. The match is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Notes: Tonight’s crowd of 3,205 marked the largest crowd in West Campus Field history … Junior Diego Navarrete tallied his fourth goal of the season against the Hoosiers, which ranks first on the team … Freshman Rami Dajani scored his second goal of the year to seal the Blazers’ win … Senior Raphael Ville made four saves on the night, recording his third victory of 2013 in goal.