By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
INDIANAPOLIS – Fort Hays State advanced to the National Quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament with a 3-2 comeback victory over Lake Erie in extra time on Thursday (Dec. 2) in the Round of 16. The No. 6 seeded Tigers trailed 2-0 to the No. 2 seeded Storm before putting together a late rally in the final 25 minutes of regulation to force overtime. The Tigers moved to 15-5-2 overall, while the Storm finish their year at 16-4-1 overall.
In the first half Lake Erie netted two goals in the 10th and 38th minutes, both by Daniel Utgaard, to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. The Tigers had put together several scoring chances in the match and finally broke through late in the second half. FHSU netted its first goal in the 74th minute when Taisei Arima threaded a pass into the box that Blake Arndt flicked over to Antonio De La Torre right in front of the keeper. De La Torre finished the nice sequence to pull the Tigers within one. The Tigers kept furiously applying pressure and finally found the equalizer when senior defender Alec Bevis chipped a loose ball past the keeper from just a few feet out in the 88th minute. The Tigers had outshot the Storm in regulation 23-13.
In the first overtime, the Storm took six shots compared to only two by the Tigers, but a second overtime period would be necessary. Halfway through the second overtime the Tigers capped their remarkable comeback when Arima dribbled around a defender on the left side of the box and found Arndt in front of the net, who sent the ball into the upper right corner of the net for the win. The Tigers finished with 26 shots and eight on target compared to 20 by the Storm, six of which were on target. Kieran Brown finished with four saves while the Lake Erie keeper Tom John had five.
The Tigers move on to face either the No. 1 seed Indianapolis or No. 4 seed Illinois-Springfield in the National Quarterfinal match on Saturday evening at 5 pm. The Tigers are making their fifth appearance in the National Quarterfinals out of their nine consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers will be looking to advance to the national semifinals for the second time in program history, their last appearance being in 2018.