PITTSBURGH — The Fort Hays State men’s soccer team’s bid to reach the national championship match fell short, with the Tigers coming as close as they possibly could without advancing.
After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, Barry edged the Tigers 5-4 in eight rounds of penalty kicks on Thursday at Highmark Stadium in the NCAA Division II semifinals.
Barry’s Ivan Barriga converted in the eighth round and a shot from FHSU's Luis Torres bounced off the post to end the match.
FHSU ended the best season in program history at 17-2-2 after winning 14 straight matches heading into the national semifinal.
"Really proud of our team and just the determination and the way they represented the school and our program," FHSU coach Brett Parker said. "Obviously losing at this stage and losing in penalties is tough for anybody, but I think we can hold our heads high and know that we left it all on the field."
The penalty-kick session offered high drama.
Tabias Patino answered Barry’s successful kick in the first round before both teams missed tries in the second round. Barry then led 2-1 after three rounds, but the Tigers took advantage of a Buccaneers shot off the post and Moritz Walther capitalized by connecting on his shot to tie it at two after four rounds.
After a save from FHSU’s Cullen Fisch, Barry stayed alive with a save on an FHSU shot in the fifth round.
The teams traded successful attempts in the next two rounds, with Mauricio Etcheverry and Raul Fierro scoring for the Tigers, before the marathon finally ended in the eighth.
In the second half of the match, Fort Hays survived a Barry shot that clanked off the post in the 35th minute. Moments later FHSU goalkeeper Fernando Pina suffered an apparent knee injury. Pina tried to play through the injury for the next 10 minutes but the Tigers replaced him with Fisch with 25 minutes left.
Fisch came up huge for the Tigers, deflecting a shot over the bar in the second overtime.
"He played a lot for us early (in the season)," Parker said of Fisch. "He was ready. When you lose any player ... you expect the guys to step in and not miss a beat. He made a great save late in the match and did well in the penalties too. I was proud of him to come in and play with confidence and really didn't miss a beat."
The Tigers were forced to play without national player of the year Santiago Agudelo for the second straight game after Agudelo injured his ankle in the regional final. Agudelo scored 26 goals on the season, 20 more than any other player on the team.
Barry will face West Chester in the national championship match at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday in Pittsburgh.