Penalty Kicks Drop Tigers Just Short of National Semifinals

FHSU Sports Information Department

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Fort Hays State men’s soccer team fell just shy of their first-ever trip to the national semifinals on Sunday (Nov. 22) when they were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament on penalty kicks by No. 5 ranked Rockhurst in a shootout. The result is officially a tie, 1-1, which capped the Tigers’ season record at 13-5-2 overall, but the Hawks moved on to the championship site in Florida by a 4-1 count in the shootout.

The Tigers got on the board first when senior captain David Lucio took control of the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, fired it through a swarm of players, and buried it into the lower left-hand side of the net for his fourth goal of the season at the 20:37 mark.

The lead did not last long as 15 seconds later the Hawks struck immediately off the restart. A long ball into the box from Kaleb Jackson bounced off a few legs and landed at the feet of Claudio Romano who was able to find the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season.

The remainder of the game was a back and forth battle between both teams with several opportunities for each side. The Tigers ended regulation with 11 shots and the Hawks were able to get off 17, but neither were able to score the remainder of regulation. An extra 20 minutes could not determine a winner either, so the advancing team was decided by penalty kicks in a best-of-five shootout.

Despite the great effort all match from the Tigers, Rockhurst needed just four shots to advance to the NCAA Championship site. The Tigers were denied on two of their first three shots, and the Hawks made their first four to end the shootout.

Regardless of the heartbreaking result, it was another great year for the FHSU men. The team set a new single-season win record for the program with 13. They had eight players earn All-MIAA honors, including the MIAA Player of the Year Mauricio Castorino.

Although the season ended for the Tigers, they reached the National Quarterfinals and claimed the Central Region Championship for the second straight year. The Tigers pushed their streak of consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament to four and with just six seniors departing, will look to continue that streak in 2016.

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