The SMU men’s soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 win over Denver on Nov. 22.
Despite ample shot opportunities, neither team was able to score in full time. However, in the 94th minute, Stanton Garcia scored on an assist from Mauro Cichero, giving the Mustangs an overtime victory. The goal was Garcia’s sixth of the season, three of which have been game winners.
When asked if it was the best goal of his life, Garcia said, “It’s got to be because we’re going to the Sweet 16.”
The Pioneers suffered their first loss of the season despite outshooting SMU 14-9 and earning 13 corner kicks to SMU’s 2. Michael Nelson, AAC Goalkeeper of the Year, had four saves for the Mustangs in his second consecutive shutout.
“We are thrilled with the result,” said Head Coach Kevin Hudson. “It wasn’t the most beautiful game but the boys did very well to earn the victory. Playing on Thursday in the first round and then traveling to Denver put us at a significant disadvantage. I have to give a lot of credit to the assistant coaches who were great preparing video for the game and getting the travel right to deal with the altitude. We are proud of this group as they continue to find ways to get results.”
Previously, on Nov. 19, the Mustangs defeated Utah Valley in the first round of the tournament. Goals from Brenden Lee and Idi Camara helped SMU get a 2-0 win. Nelson had three saves in the shutout.
This is SMU’s 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 22 years. The team made the Elite Eight in 2010 and is one win away from making it back there this season.
The AAC regular season champion Mustangs improved to 15-2-4 with the win. They will play the No. 4 seeded Akron Zips on Nov. 29 at 3 p.m. CT in Ohio.