Characterized by a victory dive into a mud-caked Wood Road Field, superb sophomore Spencer Bursten’s miraculous goal late captured a crucial victory for the Rangers.
UW-Parkside (8-3-2) (13-3-2) hosted Rockhurst University (6-7) (8-9) Friday afternoon in a Great Lakes Valley Conference showdown featuring inclement weather and plenty of player altercations.
The match presented two of the most illustrious head coaches in NCAA history with 566 career wins by Rockhurst’s Tony Tocco and 425 by Parkside’s Rick Kilps.
Differing from Tocco’s fiery and hot-tempered style, it was Kilps’ patience and poise that notched another victory to his credit.
“We owned play early but let them slip right back into it,” he said. “Our guys exhibited great fortitude though which allowed them to come back and take the win.”
Even with unfavorable conditions, Parkside’s offensive prowess consistency forced the issue. Despite missing the previous road-trip due to illness and not yet being at full capacity, points leader Niklas Boedts (25) delivered several excellent set-ups early. One of which was smashed by junior midfielder Jon Bebeau resulting in a diving save by Rockhurst’s goal-keeper Ryan Bass.
Facilitating the attack, Boedts’ brilliant passes eventually paid major dividends however.
At 26:09, UW-Parkside’s senior forward Johnson Thao provided the lone first half goal by launching a shot that scathed the right post into the net for a 1-0 lead, and supplying one for the record books.
The milestone marked Thao’s 29th career goal surpassing current associate head coach Jason Zitzke for the sole owner of 10th all-time on Parkside’s scoring list.
Commanding the tempo of the game in all aspects, the Rangers successfully closed out the first half with a 10-4 advantage in shots attempted.
Parkside’s net-minder Jamie Lieberman was only required to contribute one save as savvy defense by senior Jason Moxley and junior Matt Gloshen suffocated the Hawks’ offensive attack.
Despite a dominant style of play, the Rangers squandered scoring opportunities which became even more magnified following a hand-ball infraction signaled in the box late in regulation.
At 79:25, a penalty kick by Rockhurst’s junior defense-man Patrick White tied the game at one after crushing his shot top-shelf over the outstretched arms of Lieberman.
As the match moved into overtime, tempers flared culminating in several cautions including an ejection issued to Rockhurst’s Sean Verbanic. More failure to capitalize offensively by the Rangers extended the game into double overtime.
Finally, at 104:25, a disgruntled Parkside bench and crowd had reason to celebrate by heroics courtesy of Bursten.
The midfielder collected the rebound off his own shot attempt and chipped a game-winner over Bass. The assist was credited to junior Jose Alfaro.
“It’s been frustrating at times this year not being able to deliver the clutch goal,” said Bursten. “Contributing it today is just an awesome feeling.”
Substitutes Dennis Orellana, Austin Robb, and Kinkade Lo provided key performances off the bench for the Rangers.
With a short hiatus, Parkside returns to action Sunday afternoon to host juggernaut Drury University at 2:30. The squad ranked No. 7 nationally boasts an 11-1 conference record and currently reigns over the top slot in the GLVC.
“Simply put, Bursten was not going to be denied,” assured Kilps. “We got the job done so now it’s about carrying the momentum into Sunday.”