The Fort Hays State men's soccer team battled No. 22 Rogers State to a 2-2 draw Sunday afternoon (Nov. 17) inside FHSU Soccer Stadium. But with the GAC/MIAA Championship on the line, the match didn't end after two overtimes and 110 minutes. The Hillcats of Rogers State prevailed in a penalty kick shootout, besting the Tigers 4-3.
To get to the title match, FHSU handled the Harding University Bisons in a 3-1 victory, while Rogers State commanded a 2-0 victory over Northeastern State University.
The two advancing sides featured the top two seeds in the tournament field. Fort Hays State, the regular season conference champions, entered the match ranked ninth in the latest NCAA Super Region 3 rankings, while the second-seeded Hillcats are listed at No. 12 in the region rankings.
Fort Hays State was able to strike first in the opening half. A cross sent into the middle of the six-yard box provided heaps of trouble for GAC first team goalkeeper Dillon Dean. As the ball bounced through a mixed group of Tigers and Hillcats, junior Arsenio Chamorro was taken down by Dean. After a slight pause, central referee Brian Bauer allotted for a Fort Hays State penalty.
Perfect from the spot this season, junior captain Moritz Walther began his routine. On the blow of the whistle, Walther began his run up and hit a driven ground ball to the center of the goal, sending Dean diving to his left.
Just nine minutes later, Rogers State retaliated with a goal of their own from the foot of Chris Sowder. Callum Hubble sent a ball into the box from the right wing. FHSU goalkeeper Cullen Fisch attempted to make a diving stop to send the ball out of the danger zone, but the ball just grazed off the keeper's fingertips. Sowder extended his leg and tapped the ball just inside the far post to even the match score up at one in the 19th minute.
The two sides carried a draw into the locker room, featuring a very even matchup with the Tigers leading the Hillcats by two in shots and corners taken over the first 45 minutes.
The second half of regulation featured another back and forth battle, ending with four corners taken and Rogers State leading by just one shot.
Tournament MVP Noah Robson resumed the scoring in the 56th minute when winger Jordan Watson fought off a challenge and relinquished possession to Robson, who was playing just beyond the edge of the 18-yard box. The senior forward took one touch and then ripped a shot through a window of Tiger defenders.
With the ball soaring towards the net, Fisch took two steps and leapt in an attempt to make a save, but was unable to reach the ball that had nestled into the upper most right corner of the goal—putting Rogers State out in front, 2-1.
However, only four minutes later, Fort Hays State junior forward Mauricio Etcheverry equalized the match on a breakaway. With Agudelo to his right and Rogers State freshman defender Manuel Camarena at his tail, the Asuncion, Paraguay native took his shot on goal.
Slipping just in front of the stretched leg of defender Michael Turner, the shot proceeded to one-hop and slide under Dean as it bounced into the back of the net.
There would be six registered shots in the second half, only one requiring a save from Fisch until the horn blew to signal the end of regulation.
A pair of shots were attempted in the first overtime periods. Both sides remained poised and attempted runs in the behind the defense from the wings, but neither team was able to clock in the game-winning goal.
With under two minutes remaining in the second overtime period, a foul was called on Tigers senior Sergio Villalba, who was giving chase to a Hillcats attacker making his move on the Fort Hays State back line. The senior midfielder was ultimately called for a foul, being handed a red card and reducing FHSU to ten men.
The Black and Gold managed to defend the Hillcats free kick and see out the remaining time on the clock.
With regulation and both overtime periods coming to a close, the two sides geared up for penalty kicks.
Both head coaches, Gerry Cleary and Derek Larkin, would enter in two more names on the team sheet for penalty kicks. FHSU's Kieran Brown and RSU's Austin Wormell would see their first action of the day and be tasked in goal.
Chamorro was the first player to step up for the Tigers and would miss the target on his attempt. Robson followed with his attempt and beat Brown at the center of the goal. Each penalty kick taker in rounds two, three and four would hit the back of the net, giving the Hillcats a 4-3 advantage heading into the final round.
Junior Ross Boyd stepped up to the spot and rifled a shot to the left of the goal. Wormell jumped off of his line at the moment of impact and created a save that crowned the Hillcats as GAC/MIAA Champions.
The final result of the match snapped the longest home winning streak in the nation at 25 games. But with the official result going in as a draw, the Tigers kept a 27-matchh unbeaten streak alive in the record books.
Fort Hays State closes out the day claiming a 13-5-2 record on the 2019 campaign. The Black and Gold will now await the NCAA Selection Show, hoping to be selected as a team in a field of 40 to continue their postseason.
That selection process is slated for a 5:30 p.m. CST announcement on Monday, Nov. 18 on NCAA.com.