COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Once the Ursinus College men's soccer team equalized early in the second half of Tuesday's non-conference matchup with DeSales, it seemed only a matter of time before a game-winner came along. It took longer than expected, but an anxious wait made the end result that much sweeter.
Colin Holtzman made his first career goal one he'll never forget, curling in a right-footed shot off a pass from Alexis Ayala following a free-kick restart into the top left corner of the net for a stunning winner with 3:44 remaining in overtime to walk off with a 2-1 win in a back-and-forth thriller on Patterson Field.
Holtzman's howitzer set off a wild celebration on the outdoor track as the Bears were greeted by the men's lacrosse team, which caught the final moments after finishing practice on Snell Field. Ursinus (4-3-0) improved to a perfect 3-0 at home this season and has already matched its largest win total since 2014.
Holtzman is the second current Ursinus player to open his account with a golden goal, joining Rocco Mesoraca, who deposited the winning marker in his debut against Susquehanna three years ago.
It was a fitting end for an instant classic that featured 39 combined shots – 22 of them on target – and a bevy of chances for both sides. The Bears fell behind 1-0 on the quarter-hour as Sean Murray ripped a left-footed rocket into the lower left corner of the net to put DeSales (3-6-0) on top.
The Bulldogs maintained that lead through the rest of the half, but Ursinus was on the front foot for the majority of it. Jacob Helwig had space to fire from inside the box after a feed from Griffin Bower before seeing his effort blocked, and the hosts nearly grabbed a cheap goal when Christian Wady's high lofted pass into the box nearly bounced into the net after the goalie whiffed on his attempted catch. Mike Buck volleyed just high on an inch-perfect cross from Wady in the closing seconds.
The Bears went right back on the attack as the second stanza began, Braden Burns being played in one-on-one in the first 20 seconds only for the keeper to stone his attempt.
The equalizer finally came in the 58th minute as Marco Grenda powered home a right-footed shot for his first career goal. A pass was deflected right into the path of the rookie, who made no mistake from close range and left the Bulldogs goalie helpless.
Ursinus goalie Tyler Lewin made a great diving save to keep the home side on level terms, and nearly scored on a free kick from midfield as he forced his counterpart to make a leaping save.
Back and forth the sides went, each applying considerable pressure only to see chances go begging.
Then came overtime, where Bower and Jacob Helwig each forced a save before the winning sequence. Ursinus drew a foul about 30 yards out, and Ayala played the free kick right into the path of Holtzman, who took it in stride and tucked a perfectly struck ball into the upper corner.
Holtzman matched Ayala and Burns with four shots to lead the Bears, who outshot DeSales by a count of 24-15 and put 14 on frame. Burns put all four of his attempts on target.
Lewin finished with seven saves to earn the victory, with his counterpart Jake Padula racking up 12.
Ursinus returns to Centennial Conference action with a home match against Washington College on Saturday.