On a Halloween afternoon, the Dons travelled to St. Mary’s looking to extend their conference winning streak to three games. The game took many turns, but a goal from senior midfielder Danny Kirkland with 36 seconds left in the match helped the Dons eke out a 2-1 win over the Gaels.
St. Mary’s controlled the ball for most of the first half, but the Dons still managed to hold off the Gaels’ six shots and have the lead going into halftime. In the 12th minute, freshman midfielder Mitchell McPartland collected the ball inside the box and knocked it past Gaels goalkeeper Andre Rawls and into the net. It was McPartland’s first collegiate goal.
The Dons kept St. Mary’s scoreless deep into the second half, and thought they had a 1-0 victory put away until the Gaels finally struck in the final minutes of the match. The goal came in the 89th minute, when Riley Hanley drove home the equalizer to level the score at 1-1.
With little time for the Dons to counter, overtime seemed inevitable. But with under a minute left in regulation, freshman midfielder Jonathan Fabulich made a cut towards the goal when he was fouled in the penalty box by a Gaels defender. Kirkland, the Dons’ leading goal scorer, stepped up to take the penalty kick and sent a shot past Rawls for the game-winner. It was the third time this year that Kirkland scored a go-ahead goal in the second half on a penalty kick.
“We worked a little harder at the end and we pulled it off,” head coach Eddie Soto told usfdons.com. “We played well and the guys are excited. Our team is playing with confidence.”
The win kept the Dons undefeated (3-0) in West Coast Conference play. USF is now 9-4-2 overall on the season, and sits atop the WCC standings.
The Dons were scheduled to play a game against Pacific last Sunday, Nov. 2, but that match was rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 13. Next, USF will travel to Los Angeles and challenge Loyola Marymount on Friday, Nov. 7th at 7:00 p.m.