Palm Beach Atlantic Drops Bizarre Heartbreaker in Penalty Kicks at NCCAA National Tournament

Written By: Michael Brown, Palm Beach Atlantic University Sports Information Director

Box Score

KISSIMMEE, Fla.- In what many will likely remember as one of the strangest soccer matches they have ever witnessed, the Palm Beach Atlantic University and Judson University men’s soccer teams hooked up for what would be an exciting if not memorable contest between the two schools in the first-round of the NCCAA National Soccer Championship Tournament on Wednesday evening. Despite their great efforts, the Fish would not advance as the Eagles earned the win with a 5-3 advantage in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.

Entering play at 17-3 and seeded fifth in the eight team field, the Eagles would present a very admirable challenge for the fourth-seeded Sailfish as the two teams battled each other in what was a very physical contest from start to finish. Judson was whistled for 28 fouls on the night while PBA took 19 fouls to the books. What was more odd was the fact that Judson was cautioned for 10 cards on the night including three red cards. All three ejections were straight to red, which certainly casts doubt on the availability of the three players for the remainder of the tournament.

The Eagles jumped to a 1-0 lead just shy of the 31st minute when Gustavo Oliveira found teammate Tom Kruse streaking forward for a breakaway goal to put them out in front in the first-half. Despite their best efforts, the Sailfish were unable to find a way to find the back of the net the remainder of the period and went into the break trailing by a goal.

After struggling to put home another goal in the early portion of the second-half, the Eagles opted to go with a much more conservative offensive approach the remainder of the half, and in doing so effectively kept the Sailfish at bay offensively.

PBA managed to finally break through in the 86th minute when senior captain Cheyne Roberts cashed in on a penalty kick to save the game momentarily for the Sailfish.

Playing a man down to start the overtime period after a red card issued to Kruse in the second-half, Judson then suffered additional blows as Tony Skarvatun and William Zardetto were both issued red cards and ejected for illegal tackles within a two minute span during the first overtime period. Now playing three men down, the Eagles somehow managed to force the penalty kick session against PBA after the Fish were unable to push past a goal in overtime.

After Rafa Heck delivered on the opening p.k. shot for JU, Sailfish senior Chance Sumner also pushed a shot past the keeper to tie at 1-1. Jimmy Romano then followed with a shot beyond Joe Yurchak’s extended dive while PBA freshman Gabe Carneiro then promptly went too high with his penalty kick attempt which left the Eagles in the driver’s seat.

Next stepped up Danny Hinterlong whose shot just went past the diving Yurchak while Johnathan Clark registered a penalty kick of his own to cut the lead to 3-2. Martin Khoshaba and Juan Villagrana then traded made attempts setting up a must save for PBA in an attempt by Eagles forward Gustavo Oliveira. Despite his valiant effort, Yurchak was unable to make the save and the Eagles clinched the strange and emotional win.

PBA finished leading the shot count by an 18-12 showing while also leading in corner kicks at 5-3.

Ryan Roepelle finished a fantastic night in goal with two saves while playing all 110 minutes. Yurchak made two saves as well.

After day one of the tournament, the top-four seeds including PBA were all upset by their opponent and are now out of contention for the NCCAA National Championship.

Judson advances to play #8 Mid-America Christian University in the semi-finals however they will be without the services of Kruse, Skarvatun, and Romano for at minimum the next game with further disciplinary action pending.

The Sailfish will return to the pitch on Thursday for a 5 p.m. match against #1-seeded Mid-Continent University in a rematch of last season’s opening round match between the two squads.

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