Chicago, IL – Illinois Tech defeated the highly-touted and CCAC Regular Season Champion Cardinal Stritch Wolves 2-1 in a dramatic overtime win at Stuart Field on Tuesday Night. Brandon Ramirez's extra time strike stunned the visiting Milwaukee side and ended a 5-game slide for the Hawks.
Earlier in the night, Robert Rixer gave the Hawks an early lead before Tylor Bacher equalized for Stritch. The game was IIT's last ever against CCAC opposition (IIT is transitioning to NCAA Division III) and was a fitting sendoff given the team's strength over the past decade.
The game started under windy Chicago conditions as both teams looked to settle in early. Sam Smith had the best of the opening exchanges but his well-directed shot from 12 yards was not enough to beat Wolves keeper Jim Jones. In the 14th minute, Senior Robert Rixer opened the scoring for the Hawks with a volley from the edge of the 18-yard box. Following a free kick, the ball rebounded to Rixer who took a touch and sent the ball into the top corner of the net.
Taken aback by the goal, Stritch pressed forward creating opportunities but unable to break through a stingy Hawks defense. IIT goalkeeper EJ Yang came up with a string of excellent saves throughout the first half but also had some fortune with two shots rebounding off the woodwork. The Hawks were unlucky not to double their lead just before the break when Bart Grabowski got in behind the Wolves backline. However Grabowski was unable to put his shot in.
The second half began with more luster as both teams pressed forward. It was Stritch however who struck back through Tylor Bacher. A deep corner was knocked back to Bacher who smashed home past IIT's Yang to restore parity for the visitors. Both teams traded chances for the duration of the second half and it was very nearly a heartbreaker for the Hawks had it not been for a sharp save by Yang to deny the Wolves with 12 seconds left.
The game then went into overtime, the 6th of the season for the Hawks who held a 1-1-3 overtime record on the season. However it took only 3 minutes for IIT to find the winner through Brandon Ramirez. The forward from Estado de Mexico, Mexico picked the ball up on the edge of the penalty box before dribbling past a Wolves defender and gliding the ball into the far corner from a near impossible angle. The stunner from Ramirez was his 4th goal of the season and gave Stritch their first defeat in 9 games.
The Tech men look to finish the season on a strong note as they host Nebraska Wesleyan this Saturday at 7:30 pm in the Provisional Independent Tournament Championship.