Meinhard wins last soccer game for Tulsa, writes sports writer Callie Hummel.
There’s a saying thrown around prolifically in sports, “it’s not over until it’s over,” meaning anything can happen in those final minutes—or seconds—until the final buzzer officially goes off. On Sept. 29, Alex Meinhard proved it’s truly not over until it’s over, even if there’s only a few seconds left.
Tulsa men’s soccer team faced off against SMU Wednesday night for their first home conference game. Both teams currently being ranked in the top 10, Tulsa at #4 and SMU at #6. According to Top Drawer Soccer, it was squaring up to be the most competitive game of the season. Tulsa was also going into the game with an undefeated 6-0 record, and SMU went in with zero losses but two ties for a 5-0-2 record.
In the 16th minute of the game, SMU scored a header to get ahead in the game. Tulsa seemed unfazed by the early goal, ready to get onto the next play. They had the ball at midfield and were in their positions for the post-goal kick off before all of SMU’s players even got down the field to celebrate with the scorer.
Just 20 minutes later in the first half, Ben Barkley got the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and sent a leading touch to Rooks Hunter who slid to connect with the ball and crossed it into the middle of the field right before it could go out of bounds. Alex Meinhard, waiting in the center for the cross, jumped up against three defenders and the goalie, successfully heading it into the back of the net, past all four of the SMU players.
When Meinhard scored the goal, the record breaking 1257 fans in the stadium let SMU know who had beat their defense by setting off blue smoke bombs, banging on their drums and chanting, “Alex Meinhard, he scores when he wants.”
Minutes before the second half ended, SMU got a break away down the field with three players against Tulsa’s senior defender Henry Sach and goalie Alex Lopez. When Lopez attacked the ball, it was passed to the open SMU player in front of the goal. Just as he connected with the ball, Sach slid in front of the kick, the ball ricocheted off his body and successfully saved the goal. In an interview with Malik Henry-Scott, he commented that, “Henry’s a guy who’s really overlooked—he does the dirty work for the team, he does the job that not everybody really wants but he does the job.”
The second half brought dozens of offensive and defensive stand out plays to keep the score at a 1-1 tie for the whole 45 minutes. At the end of the 90 minute regular play the score was still stuck at 1-1, and after the teams played their first 10 minute half of overtime, the whistle blew with the teams still at a stalemate. If the second overtime ended 1-1, the game would end in a tie.
During the second half of overtime Tulsa was shooting on the goal right in front of their lively and enthusiastic student section. However, nine minutes went by with shots, but no goals. Within the last minute, a Tulsa defender blasted the ball upfield to his attacking players. After a cross attempt by Will Edwards got punched out by the goalie to Henry-Scott, who passed the ball to Tom Protzek at the top of the box. Protzek ripped a shot out that bounced off the goalie’s chest, right onto the cleats of Meinhard, who rebounded the shot into the left corner of the goal with 7.4 seconds left.
Playing until the final whistle, Tulsa has proved they have the winner’s mindset—the ability to step up, ignore the fatigue and call for the ball when the game comes down to the last decisive seconds, and it’s clear that this mental toughness has propelled the team to their 8-0 record.