Sophomore midfielder Jun Tsuru dribbles around a pressing Rochester defender. Alec Giufurta/Contributing

The Emory men’s soccer team defeated the University of Rochester (N.Y.) in a 3-2 overtime victory on Senior Day Nov. 4.

The outcome of the match had serious ramifications: If the Eagles won, they would most likely qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. If they lost, their season was likely at its end.

The win secured the Eagles a spot in the 2017 NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship. The NCAA announced Nov. 6 that Emory would be one of a field of 62 college teams competing for the title. This marks the Eagles’ 15th NCAA tournament appearance.

“The team is very excited to be in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014, and all of us seniors are happy to be able to keep our careers going for at least one more game,” senior forward Christian Meyer said.

The chances of qualifying didn’t always look great for the Eagles. For much of the game, the Eagles played catch up against the Yellowjackets.

The Yellowjackets struck first early at the 8:44 mark. Following a Rochester corner kick, the ball was cleared, but landed at the foot of Yellowjacket defender Nik Angyal. His shot from outside the box was blocked by Emory freshman keeper Cole Gallagher but found Rochester midfielder Bryce Ikeda, who knocked in the easy rebound.

Trailing 1-0, the Eagles had chances to equalize in the 14th minute. However, senior forward Michael Carragher’s and Meyer’s shots were saved by Rochester keeper Redd Brown.

Senior center back Cody Gardiner shields the ball from a defender. Alec Giufurta/Contributing

The Yellowjackets held a 1-0 until the 68th minute when junior midfielder Moustafa Khattab coolly dribbled around the keeper to score the equalizer. The goal was assisted by a precise through ball by senior forward Jason McCartney that left Khattab one on one with the keeper.

But less than one minute later the Yellowjackets found the net again, taking a 2-1 advantage. Angyal received the ball on the right flank, cut left, ripped a left-footed shot from outside the box and found the back of the net.  

With time winding down and the Eagles’ hopes of qualifying for the tournament dwindling, junior defender Tyler Santee scored with less than nine minutes left in regulation. Santee’s first headed attempt was put on frame but deflected by Brown. The rebound, however, bounced right back to Santee, who delivered the equalizer.

At 2-2, the Eagles and Yellowjackets headed to overtime with the season on the line.

In the 94th minute, Meyer provided the goal that sent the Eagles into the NCAA Tournament on the special Senior Day.

Waiting outside the box, Meyer received a pass from Santee, who stole the ball after a poor Yellowjacket clearance attempt. After making a move into the box, Meyer ripped a screamer that flew into the top right corner of the net and provided Emory with the game-winning goal.

“It was a fantastic feeling to see the ball hit the back of the net, as it was our first victory in overtime this year even though it was our fifth overtime game,” said Meyer. “More importantly, the win gave us 12 on the year and a third-place conference finish and set us up very well heading into the NCAA tournament selection show Monday afternoon.”

With a spot in the tournament officially obtained, the Eagles (12-5-1) will play Dickinson College (Pa.) (11-6-3) Nov. 11, in Lynchburg, Va.

“I think that our team as a whole has grown a lot throughout the season, and we know that every game from here on out is do or die,” Santee said. “The further we go, the tougher it will get, but we’ve been training for this all year, and we are ready for the challenge. Of course Dickinson will be a tough opponent, seeing as they’ve made it to the tournament, so we will really have to be at our best on Saturday.”