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JOHNSTON: Joe Bergin feeling, looking good

Joe Bergin has had an amazing comeback.

The seventh-year Marietta College men’s boss faced a life without Pioneer soccer for five-plus weeks last May and June with a heart issue and a journey to the Cleveland Clinic.

But happy to say, Bergin, a former MC soccer standout and 1986 grad, was back coaching and preparing for the 2019 season at the start of the summer.

“They fixed all the things they needed to fix, and the heart works,” said Bergin after Marietta College defeated the Baldwin Wallace University Yellow Jackets, 3-1, Saturday night in a showdown match at Marietta Field.

With the victory, the MC booters (9-8-1 overall, 4-4-1 OAC) clinched their sixth consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament appearance. At 7 p.m. today, the sixth-seeded Pioneers are scheduled to play in a quarteround match at third-seeded Ohio Northern University.

“After the surgery, I felt good,” Bergin continued. “It never really bothered me. It was just getting too big and it was a risk for rupture. So they had to repair that.”

Bergin paused and smiled.

“I don’t have a lot of stamina,” the coach said. “But I’m back and happy to be here.”

Pleased also that the Pioneer booters prevailed and ended the Yellow Jackets’ season at 11-9-0 and 4-5-0.

“We knew we had to win, and they only needed a tie,” Bergin said. “As you can imagine, I’m quite happy with the performance of the boys.”

Marietta dominated the first half and led 1-0 on senior Luke Maher’s goal in the 17th minute. But it was the MC defense that made its presence known, allowing BW zero shot attempts.

After the intermission, though, a re-grouped BW team finally went on the attack and got the equalizer off a set piece (corner kick) early on.

“Games like this tax me a little bit,” Bergin said.

If the match at that point had ended in a draw, Baldwin Wallace and not Marietta would have extended its season.

“We took their best shots when they kept coming at us,” Bergin said.

In the 72nd minute, BW’s Kylan Keeling drilled a shot off the right post. A near goal, and Bergin’s heart no doubt skipped a beat on that one.

But the Pioneers were able to counter quickly to the coach’s relief with both a go-ahead and insurance goal, and….game over.

“That (go-ahead) goal of (sophomore) Gavin Long’s was a touch of class,” Bergin said, “and the dagger went in on the third goal (by freshman Jovonni Auddino).”

Bergin said that 11 of the 18 MC players who competed on the pitch against BW were freshmen and sophomores.

“We’re really young,” he added. “And, we’re a little banged up, but that’s this time of the year.”

Young, banged up, and on their way with Coach to Ada, Ohio, Tuesday.

Contact Ron Johnston at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com.

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