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Wheaton soccer falls one short in dream season

BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI

For the Sun-Times

When the soccer season began this fall, there were a couple of certainties in view for Mike Giuliano: This would be his last season as men’s coach at Wheaton, and he had a team with a chance of making a strong run at a national level.

“Age matters in college sports,” said Giuliano, whose veteran Thunder (22-4) finished as NCAA Division III runner-up after a 4-2 loss to Tufts in the title game Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri. “That I started the same starting lineup for 24 straight games and the majority of them were juniors and seniors who had been to the NCAA tournament a number of times, that certainly allowed us to do what we had to do.”

Wheaton reached the final by nudging Oneonta 3-2, then showed its experience and poise when Tufts led 3-0 early in the second half. Wheaton’s Noah Anthony scored at 53:34 and 59:18, and the game stayed tight until Tufts’ Nathan Majumder scored at 81:19.

“We had three or four great chances to tie it up in the second half,” Giuliano said. “It was a team that had been there enough that those kinds of things didn’t bring them down too much.”

Anthony, a senior defender, and junior forward Stephen Golz were named first-team All-Americans by BennettRank. Golz scored 21 goals, including a nation-leading eight game-winners, and led tournament scorers with six goals. Meanwhile, the National Soccer Coaches Association chose junior midfielder Elliot Borge and junior forward Marshall Hollingsworth as first-team All-Americans.

“I sort of chuckled when I saw both lists, because we got two on the first team in each list, but they’re not the same guys,” Giuliano said with a laugh.

Giuliano, who holds a doctorate in communication studies from Northwestern, coached eight years at Wheaton, going 121-42-18. His Thunder won the last three CCIW regular-season and tournament championships as well as winning the regular season in 2008 and the league tournament in 2008 and 2009.

He will leave to teach and coach high school girls at Greater Atlanta Christian School while his wife, Barbara, pursues a dream.

“For 32 years, I’ve had a chance to chase my dreams, and now my wife, who has a strong interest in anti-human trafficking, has a chance to follow hers,” he said. “Atlanta apparently is one of the hubs in the country for minor sex ­trafficking. There is an ­organization down there [Street Grace] that asked her to be involved, and she’s going to do that.”

St. Xavier loses shootout

Quarterback Austin Dodge and the Southern Oregon offense proved too much for St. Xavier in an NAIA football semifinal Saturday, with the visiting Raiders winning 62-37. Dodge completed 32 of 51 passes for 460 yards and five touchdowns, and ran for another score.

St. Xavier’s John Rhode completed 30 of 50 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. The Cougars (10-3) were in the national semifinals for the fifth time in six years, including a national championship in 2011.