by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
LISLE, Ill. – Lukasz Sulka scorched a 32-yard free kick into the net to give the 16th-ranked Benedictine Eagles a non-conference, extra time win over the Whitworth Pirates.
The win was the first of the season for the Eagles (1-1), while Whitworth (0-2) remains winless on the season. Both of the Pirates' losses have been to ranked squads.
The match was an exciting back and forth affair. Both teams earned plenty of chances, but great defense and goalkeeping stifled most of them until Sulka's goal in the 101st minute.
After a slow start to the match for both teams, Benedictine took advantage of their first solid chance of the match. Nick Kapetanos paired with Aldreiron Smith on the counterattack to score Kapetanos' first goal of the season. Kapetanos found himself 1-on-1 with Whitwoth goalkeeper Tony Watters in the 14th minute and fired the ball just past Watters hands to give his team the lead.
Whitworth didn't take long to respond. They took advantage of a free kick just a couple minutes later to knot the score at 1-1. Sophomore forward Drew Williams picked up his first goal of the season at the end of a picture-perfect pass from Austin Cassity. The assist was Cassity's second this season. Both assists were on free kicks.
For the remainder of the first half, both teams created chances before being stymied by opposing goalkeepers and defenders. Pirate keeper Jesus Nunez undoubtedly had the highlight of the bunch though with a high-flying, 40th minute save.
The Eagles looked to have a promising counterattack. Sulka received a pass just outside the box and let loose a high, curling shot towards the corner of the net. Nunez soared up to meet it and punched the ball over the crossbar. Whitworth would survive the subsequent corner kick and take a tie into halftime.
Nunez continued his run of strong play in the second half. Though only credited with two saves, Nunez thwarted several Benedictine chances with excellent positioning and hustle. He poked away several passes and kept the Whitworth offense moving at the back.
Whitworth earned several opportunities to score in the half, but couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. Jonah Snyder sent a well-placed corner kick to Micah Weller in the 50th minute, but Weller's header went wide left. Then, Eric Espinoza's free kick bounced off the cross bar in the 67th minute to keep the match tied.
For his part, Antonio Marti Polo was equally stellar in the Eagle goal. He shut down the Pirates on multiple occasions; at one point going full extension to keep Moi Diaz from scoring his first goal of the season in the 65th minute.
Marti Polo finished with three saves. Benedictine ended the match with a 17-11 advantage in shots and 5-4 lead in shots on goal. The Pirates took six corner kicks to the Eagles' one.
The Pirates are back in action tomorrow. Their Illinois road trip finishes with a trip to North Park University. The match begins at Noon.