The men’s soccer team saw their season come to end on a cold Thursday afternoon at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After a hard-fought battle, the Broncos fell to the West Chester Golden Rams 2-1 in overtime of the NCAA Semifinals.
The Broncos had four straight shutouts in the NCAA Division ll Championship Tournament, as they advanced to the semifinals in Pittsburgh.
“We went on the road to Seattle and beat two of the highest scoring teams in the nation and shut them out,” head coach Adam Reeves said. “Then we came back to Azusa on their field and beat them in a shutout, and then we took care of West Texas A&M as well, which led us to Pittsburgh.”
In Pittsburgh, the Broncos started off the first half strong, gaining most of the possession and control of the match. However, they were unable to get past the Golden Ram’s goalkeeper, Will Marshall.
In the first half, the Broncos had the lead in both corner kicks, 4-1, and shots, 6-2.
The match remained scoreless at the half.
In the 56th minute, sophomore midfielder Eduardo Faria headed in a goal with the assist from sophomore midfielder Omer Green to break the scoreless tie and put the Broncos in the lead.
“I believe that after the goal we felt a little bit overconfident,” Faria said. “I think that maybe that was a point where we should have stayed more with the ball and not try to attack anymore.”
Not long after, in the 60th minute, the Golden Rams got the equalizer after a corner kick attempt was rebounded and blasted into the net by freshman midfielder Eric Greer.
“Jakob [Hansen] got a fist on [the corner kick] and punched it out, then we had another header off the punch that wasn’t cleared well enough and [West Chester] finished that chance,” Reeves said. “I thought we still controlled the game, we didn’t create a lot of great opportunities after that, but I was still fairly comfortable.”
The match got very intense and physical in the final 30 minutes of regulation but the score remained tied, sending the Broncos and Golden Rams into sudden-death overtime.
Five minutes into the first overtime period, the Golden Rams took advantage of an opportunity as sophomore midfielder Daniel Grindrod delivered a perfect pass into the box and senior forward Jason Pixley headed it into the goal for the game winner, to defeat the Broncos 2-1.
The Broncos ended the match with a 15-10 shot advantage and 8-3 corner kick advantage.
Goalkeeper Hansen made a total of three saves.
West Chester went on to compete in the NCAA Championship game on Saturday morning, where they fell to Barry University 2-1.
Earlier in the week, senior defender Nadeer Ghantous was awarded an All-American Third Team honor. He made Bronco history for being the first men’s soccer player to earn three in his career.
“I just try to play my game and help the team, but it is a great honor to be named All-American three times in my four years here,” Ghantous said. “It is a pleasure for me to represent the program in this way. Of course, it is an individual trophy, but without the help of my teammates, I could not have done it throughout the years, so I am thankful for them and, of course, all of the staff.”
The honors didn’t stop there as head coach Adam Reeves and assistant coaches Bob Ammann, Cruz Hernandez and Jose Ortega were named the NCAA Division ll West Region Coaching Staff of the Year on Friday morning.
Despite the loss, the Broncos had a very exciting and eventful season. They walked away with both the CCAA regular season title as well as the NCAA West Region title. They also made it to the Final Four for their second consecutive year. Their season came to end with a final record of 17-7-0.
“I got the group together one last time tonight and I thanked the seniors for all they have done for the program,” Reeves said. “Unfortunately, they never had the opportunity to lift the big trophy that they wanted to lift, but to be here three times in your career, to win three regional titles, and to be in four regional finals is an unbelievable feat that any college soccer player would relish the opportunity to have.”
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