---Braden Bishop's header
in the first half gave NKU the early 1-0 lead over Millersville. The goal
was Bishop's eighth of the season.
Mike Anderson, NKU Sports Information
score | Photo gallery
Pa. – In a confluence of strange circumstances
mounting around the Northern Kentucky University men’s soccer
team, perseverance won the day as the Norse advanced to the NCAA
Division II national semifinals for the first time in school history
after closing out a 1-1 draw against Millersville with a 5-4 penalty-kick
The Norse (16-2-4)
dominated the first 10 minutes of action, outshooting the Marauders
(18-3-1) by a 3-1 margin over
the span before MU
picked up and turned it into the back-and-forth match the near
1,000 in attendance would enjoy on the evening. Both teams worked
the ball deep into the opposing territory effectively, with six
corner kicks taken between the two teams in the game’s first
30 minutes. But the defenses were strong, turning away the set
pieces again and again.
It wasn’t until the 34th minute that
the Norse would draw first blood. After a throw-in 35 yards from
the end line, Alex
Allison picked up a pass and sent a high service into the penalty
area for the waiting head of Braden Bishop, who flicked the ball
on past MU’s Matt Langione for his eighth goal of the season
and the early 1-0 lead for the Norse.
NKU continued to pressure
the play and ended the first half with an 8-2 shot advantage.
came out on fire to begin the second stanza, drawing an early barrage
of foul calls against the Norse to create a pair
of solid shot attempts in the first seven minutes of the half.
The pressure continued into the 60th minute, when MU’s Sean
McLaughlin made a strong run up the right side for a service in
front of the NKU net, where Ryan Kiley was set up for a deadly
header attempt that Michael Lavric just pushed over the crossbar.
the ensuing corner kick try, Dan Prian had another strong opportunity
from 15 yards, but Lavric was up to the test once again, turning
the shot aside to set up another corner, this time stopping a Pat
Baffuto shot to help push play back into the MU end.
in the midfield during the latter part of the second half as NKU
began to take a defensive stance in an effort to protect
the one goal lead, a strategy that bode well for the Norse leading
into the final six minutes of the game, when the Marauders found
the chink in NKU’s armor.
the ball deep once more to force a corner kick, Kiley pushed
long of the
NKU net, where McLaughlin tracked
the ball down for a second try. This time the pass found its mark,
the head of MU’s Shane Seabrook, which glanced off Lavric’s
crossbar and into the net for his fourth marker of the season to
draw the game even with 5:57 left in the second half.
Ray fires the deciding penalty kick in the postgame shootout
to determine tournament advancement after the game finished
in a 1-1 draw.
continued to pour on pressure in the closing moments of the second
half and on into extra time, but neither team could
find a solution before taking the game to penalty kicks.
smiled on the Norse early in the shootout when Matthew Procopio’s
opening salvo went outside of the left goalpost, giving NKU an
opening. Braden Bishop responded by burying his try
to give the Norse the early advantage.
Kiley and Mike
Jonca followed suit in the second round, converting their attempts
to keep the
margin at one. Chris Dobrowolski followed
for the Norse, taking the shootout position typically occupied
by Steven Beattie, who was unavailable for Saturday’s contest.
The defender blasted a shot hard to the left side that found the
twine to make it a 3-2 tally after three rounds.
for MU, Dustin Downey for NKU and Neil Peterson for MU each converted
to make it a 4-4 shootout entering NKU’s
final shot once again taken by senior defender Tony Ray, who’s
penalty try was the deciding factor in NKU’s 4-3 shootout
victory over Lewis in the Midwest Region championship.
up his shot and put it inside the left post to close out the shootout
in a 5-4 victory for the Norse.
The result means the Norse remain
winless against nationally ranked teams this season (0-1-4), though
two of those draws resulted in
advancement in the NCAA Tournament. Also, the four ties in 2008
mark a new club record. NKU had recorded three draws in a season
on three separate occasions, most recently in 2006.
Also, NKU played
its seventh overtime game on Saturday to equal a team record.
now advances to the NCAA national semifinals on Dec. 5 at Pepin
Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and will face the winner of Sunday’s
match between Dowling and Massachusettes-Lowell. The national championship
game will be held on Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m. and will be televised
on CBS College Sports.