UC Soccer 2

UC’s Steven Cahill (left) and Urbana’s Luke Nichols fight for the ball during their MEC tournament semifinal Wednesday at UC.

Despite a tough defensive effort from Urbana, Charleston ultimately broke through and broke through big, scoring three late goals in 13 minutes to beat the Blue Knights 3-0 in their Mountain East Conference men’s soccer semifinal matchup Wednesday in Charleston.

Gabriel Rodriguez was in the right places at the right times, notching a hat trick to account for all the Golden Eagles’ scoring.

Charleston’s defense was absolutely smothering, as Urbana was unable to record a single shot, or even get close enough to earn a corner kick. The Golden Eagles had five shots in the first half, but the Blue Knights held it together to keep the game scoreless through the first 45 minutes.

UC turned up the pressure in the second half, but it wasn’t until Ettore Ballestracci’s pass found Rodriguez in front of a diving Jakob Henriksen in the 76th minute to break the deadlock.

Twelve minutes later, Rodriguez got just enough ahead of his defender to head in the pass from Christopher Allan to double the Golden Eagle lead, and scored one more goal just 76 seconds later as Eduardo Iranzo took a long pass and tipped it to Rodriguez, who had an open net for his third goal to seal the win for Charleston.

UC will host the MEC final Sunday against Notre Dame College, which prevailed in penalty kicks against West Virginia Wesleyan 5-4 after a scoreless semifinal match.