Emmanuel Wilson barely beat the clock, and it helped the East Tennessee State soccer team continue its run of fine form against nationally-ranked opponents.
Wilson scored with three seconds remaining in regulation time and the Bucs tied No. 18 Wake Forest, 2-2, in a non-conference game Tuesday night at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
“Luckily we were able to get on the ball and create the chance and score the goal,” ETSU coach Scott Calabrese said. “But for me, I was most pleased with the way our team fought. We never quit. We never conceded defeat.”
The result left ETSU 6-5-2 and Wake Forest 7-2-4. It also extended the Bucs’ streak of unbeaten games against ranked teams to six.
The fateful goal came during true desperation time for the Bucs.
ETSU, trailing 2-1, was awarded a free kick far from the Demon Deacons’ goal as the seconds ticked off the clock. Wake Forest’s Danny Wenzel tried to slow the Bucs from taking the free kick and was given a yellow card. More importantly for ETSU, it stopped the clock with 12 seconds left.
Itode Fubara belted the free kick as far as he could. In the scrum for the ball, David Geno got a head on it and flicked it toward the goal. Wilson, a red-shirt freshman from Memphis, knocked it in as he sprinted through the box.
“It feels really good to get that goal with no time left,” said Wilson, who said the tying goal came off his thigh. “All we were gonna do was play the ball long. Geno played a great ball to the back post and I just threw my body at it and finished it.”
Wilson celebrated his second collegiate goal with two impressive front flips before being mobbed by his teammates as a boisterous student section, part of a crowd of 804, roared its approval from the stands.
“You wouldn’t think we’d have a very good chance at that point, but as many times as it happened to us this year, it sure does feel nice to get one our way this time,” Geno said. “And against such a great team, it felt great.”
Neither team scored in two overtimes. Geno's shot with a minute left was turned away by Wake Forest goalie Michael Lisch.
Geno opened the scoring with an opportunistic goal in the 30th minute. Blaike Woodruff’s cross into the box glanced off a defender’s chest and Geno volleyed it into the goal with the outstep of his right foot.
“Just right place at the right time,” Geno said. “I got lucky to put it away.”
The goal was the 21st of Geno’s career, surpassing Aaron Schoenfeld for the ETSU record. The junior from Kingsport has nine goals this season.
Wake Forest had controlled most of the action up to that point.
The Demon Deacons got the equalizer with 2:41 left in the first half when Sean Okoli gathered the ball near the edge of the penalty area, made a few quick jukes, and blasted a left-footed shot past Bucs goalie Ryan Coulter.
Okoli nearly put Wake Forest on top seven minutes into the second half, but his hard shot from the right side hit the post so squarely and hard that the sound echoed throughout the stadium. The ball bounded directly to Coulter, who cradled it out of harm’s way.
Michael Gamble gave the Demon Deacons a 2-1 advantage with a goal off a cross from Ben Newman in the 57th minute.
Geno’s bid to add to his record was turned away when his curling shot through traffic was stopped by Lisch’s diving save with 19:20 remaining.
Each team got off 15 shots, but none was more important than Wilson’s in the closing seconds.
“To give one up like that, that hurts,” Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich said. “But that’s a quality team. They can play soccer. They can punish you. The way Geno finished, he’s been around the goal before. They were opportunistic when they got a chance.”
The Bucs return to Atlantic Sun Conference action Saturday at Lipscomb.