Underclassmen heroics pave the way for JCU’s last second victory


The John Carroll Sports Information Department

Freshman Nicholas Graeca competing in a game earlier this season for John Carroll University. Graeca scored the game winning goal for the men’s soccer team on Saturday, Sept. 25 in a 1-0 victory over the University of Chicago.

Anna Meyer, Sports Editor

John Carroll University rarely faces off against the University of Chicago, and it is even rarer to capture a victory in the last 15 seconds of a 90-minute contest. 

Both of these infrequent occurrences happened as John Carroll University (3-2-2) beat the No. 9 University of Chicago (5-2-1) on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Stagg Field.

After a primarily defensive battle for 89 minutes, the freshman class stepped up to prove their dominance in a time when it mattered most. 

The Blue Streaks were on the brink of heading into their fourth overtime game this season as the scoreboard had less than 20 seconds left on the clock and a 0-0 tally for both teams. 

With seconds remaining on the clock, the freshman class stepped up to prove their dominance. The dynamic duo of Jack Foht ’25 and Nicholas Graeca ‘25 found an opening in the Maroon’s defense as Foht dished a pass over to Graeca. Graeca’s one-timer shot would wiggle past the University of Chicago goalkeeper and result in the game-winning goal for the Blue Streaks with 15 seconds left in the match. 

“Graeca stepped up in a massive way this afternoon,” said John Carroll University first-year head coach Dejan Mladenovic ’06. “Coming into this team as a first-year player, he has made tremendous strides to earn extended playing time. I am excited to watch him continue to develop within our system.”

The offense was not the strongest in the first half for either team competing in the afternoon matchup. John Carroll and the University of Chicago each only registered one shot throughout the first half. 

The Blue Streaks first shot came 12 minutes into the game, but they waited another 77 minutes until their second shot found the back of the net. 

After halftime, the Maroons amped up the pressure on the Blue Streak defense, recording seven shots in the second half. 

To compensate for John Carroll’s lack of offensive opportunities, the Blue and Gold defense held their own brick wall throughout the entirety of the second half. 

“Our defense was on point today,” exclaimed Mladenovic, “No matter who we put on the field today, they knew their role and did their job. Connor Gynn made a fantastic save late in the match to keep us in the game, and there were many elite individual performances that we needed to get this result.”

Connor Gynn ‘22 recorded his first career shutout after saving three shots from the Maroons. 

Later in the week, Gynn was named the Ohio Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance over the past weekend. 


The match was a very physical contest, with five yellow cards handed out throughout the game. 

After capturing a crucial victory against one of the top teams in the nation, the Blue Streaks believe the future is bright as they head into Ohio Athletic Conference play soon. 

“I am extremely proud of our team today,” said Mladenovic. “The University of Chicago is a top program in the nation, and I felt we did a great job competing in a week where we faced an extreme amount of adversity. Our effort was exceptional and something we can continue to build off.”

John Carroll will face off this week on Wednesday, Sept. 29, against Penn State Behrend at Don Shula Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.