No. 23 FHSU ends season in NCAA Quarterfinals; falls 3-2 to Quincy

No. 23 Fort Hays State saw its NCAA Men’s Soccer Championships run come to an end on Sunday, Nov. 23 in the NCAA Quarterfinals, dropping a 3-2 contest to Quincy in Tahlequah, Okla.

FHSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half of the Super Region 3 Final, but couldn’t hold on as Quincy sent off 22 shots (compared to FHSU’s 10) in the game.  FHSU had seven shots on goal, while QU had 12 shots on goal.

Michael Cole got things started for the Tigers in the 21st minute, giving FHSU a 1-0 lead at 20:03.  Maurizio Costa traveled down the right side of the box before finding a slot with his pass into the box, where Cole waited to put it away from 10 yards out.   The goal was Cole’s seventh of the season and his second of the NCAA Tournament.

Just 1:25 later, Cole again made an impact on the game by assisting in Austin Clifton’s sixth goal of the year. Inside the box on the left side, Cole hit a low cross to Clifton mid-box, where a one-touch from Clifton sent the Tigers to a 2-0 advantage.

Quincy fought for an answer over the final 25 minutes of the first half, firing eight shots and controlling the ball for a majority of the time.  FHSU’s defense, however, was up to the task and stuffed several runs late to hold the Hawks at bay.  Inside the final minute, QU launched four shots (including one off the post) and had two corner kicks, but the Tigers hung on and set the game to half, up 2-0.

In the 54th minute, QU again had a chance, but strong play from keeper Kent Freund kept the shutout intact.  The Hawks’ Artan Emini took two shots inside the box, but diving stops from Freund on both attempts left QU empty.

The Tigers’ shutout, however, came to an end soon after on Ethan Venvertloh’s seventh goal of the season.  Venvertloh took a cross from Jake Bond inside the box at 54:16 and headed it past Freund, cutting the deficit to one (2-1) with just over 35 minutes to play in regulation.

FHSU found itself all square with QU soon after, when Jordan Roberts settled himself near the far post, waiting for a cross from Pete Condol.  Once there, Roberts’ header was on target for the equalizer in the 62nd minute.

In the 83rd, Quincy completed the comeback to take a 3-2 lead.  Xhovani Dokaj took a thru ball from Steve McAnany, countering an FHSU attack and sent it past Freund from the top of the box.

Needing a goal to force overtime, FHSU pushed to find the answer in the final seven minutes, but couldn’t overcome QU’s three second half goals and fell in regulation.

Costa led the team with three shots (all on goal) for the afternoon, while Freund came up with nine saves on the day.

The Tigers finish the year 11-6-4 after reaching the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season and say goodbye to a senior class that helped build the program from scratch.  Tanner Brock, Diego Cabral, Freund, Eric Hymer and Carlos Linares were part of the program’s inception in 2011, and will leave Fort Hays State with a 45-22-11 record of the first four years.

QU advances as the Super Region 3 Champions to the NCAA Championships Final Four in Louisville, Ky., held Dec. 4-6.

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