Union senior sociology major Robel Dent hit a game-winning goal off a defender and into the net with just seven minutes left on Saturday night in a game that showcased the heart that Dent and his teammates played with all year. It was senior day as well as Dent’s birthday.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the boys and I’m just just happy I got the end result for us,” Dent said. “I’m just going to walk away and celebrate and have a good time.”
The win came in a back-and-forth battle against Harding University, the Great American Conference regular season champions. Union looked outmatched at the start, but the Bulldogs were able to hold off the Bisons’ early rally and get some good looks on goal toward the end of the first half.
Harding’s Matheus Ribeiro, however, put the first goal in with 10 minutes left in the half to slow the Bulldogs’ momentum.
“Nothing needs to change!” a Union player yelled from the field after Harding’s goal. The Bulldogs were playing well, and if they kept getting the looks they had been, they would eventually break through.
Union came out and dominated possession in the second half, but a stingy Bison defense kept up the shutout until there were just 18 minutes left. Then, William Valencia, freshman international business major, picked up his team-leading fifth goal of the year off of an assist by Andre Silva, junior business management major.
At that point it seemed like this game was headed to overtime, but Union stayed aggressive. Cole Asfour, sophomore sports management major and former Gulf South freshman of the year, came up with a critical steal just moments after arguing with a referee about possession on a close out-of-bounds play.
Union used this momentum to create the shot for Dent at the end, and Dent did not disappoint on senior night.
“It was exciting for Robel [Dent] and all the seniors to be able to get a result and finish their career on a win,” Steven Cox, Union head coach said.
While Union will look a lot different next year with the loss of eight seniors, this game showcased the young talent like Asfour and Valencia who will help move this program into a brighter future.
“Our plan is to bring in 10-12 guys that can fight for starting spots and have an impact as look to rebuild Union into one of the best places to play college soccer in the country,” Cox said.