Fish Drop Heartbreaker at NCCAA National Championship

Written By: Michael Brown, Palm Beach Atlantic University SID

KISSIMMEE, Fla.- Taking part in their third match in four days, the Palm Beach Atlantic University men’s soccer team was defeated on Monday evening in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national championship by the Masters College after both teams went through regulation and two overtime periods tied at one goal apiece. The Mustangs prevailed in penalty kicks by a tally of 4-2.

Tonight’s ending capped an incredible season for the PBA men’s soccer squad who finished out the 2007 campaign with one of the best seasons in school history by earning the NCCAA national runner-up and an overall record of 14-4-2.

“This team had a great season and I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts not only tonight but all season long,” said head coach Jose Gomez after the contest.

Finishing up his third season at the helm of the Sailfish program, Gomez along with a talented group of PBA student-athletes have turned around a program that went 5-11 in his first season to a near NCCAA national championship this season.

PBA struck first against the Masters College as they continually pressured the Mustang defenders in the early going, gaining multiple scoring opportunities. One of those opportunities would come to light in the 20th minute as juniors Chance Sumner (Valrico, Fla.) and Daniel Abrahamsohn (Pacifica, Calif.) each gave a touch pass that went on to freshman Kyle Crouse (Lakeland, Fla.) who quickly poked the ball past the MC keeper for the score.

A very physical contest on both sides, the 1-0 lead would hold strong all the way to the 82nd minute when the Mustangs put together a score that won’t soon be forgotten.

Awarded a corner-kick opportunity, Mustangs midfielder Justin Mohrig (Glendale, Az.) came racing across the box and fielded the corner kick off the side of this foot and amazingly shot the ball to the top right-side of the goal for the score.

With the momentum obviously shifted the Mustangs actually looked to have taken the lead only 30 seconds later but an apparent goal was called back because of an offsides call.

With the time winding down, another big play in the game came when MC forward Ewout Van Rhee received his second yellow card of the game forcing the Masters College to play a player down for the remainder of the game. The Mustangs defense would hold true however as they held the Sailfish off the scoreboard for the remainder of regulation and both overtimes. PBA would also lose a player during overtime as senior Matt Sweesy (Simpsonville, S.C.) also received his second yellow card, evening the playing field once again.

As was the case in their semi-finals victory over Mount Vernon Nazarene University on Saturday, the Sailfish would move to a penalty kick situation.

With Sweesy not available, PBA head coach Jose Gomez would turn to a surprising choice to lead off the penalty kicks session: his own goalkeeper, Joseph Yurchak (Lakeland, Fla.). This would however not go in favor of the Fish as Yurchak was denied in his attempt by MC keeper Ryan Williams (Lancaster, Calif.).

Sophomore Tyler Salvey (Ridgefield, Wash.) was successful on his try as the Mustangs pushed the penalty kicks lead to 1-0. Abrahamsohn was next for PBA as he placed a solid kick in the direction of the net, only to see his shot denied by the crossbar, opening the door for the Mustangs to take a commanding 2-0 lead.

They would do just that as freshman Andrew Hegg (Corona, Calif.) went to the right side beyond the outstretched arms of Yurchak. Sumner stepped up next for PBA and got the Fish on the board with a swift kick that tallied the score at 1-2.

Syian Wignall (Newhall, Calif.) kept the Mustangs lead at two when he placed his shot into the left-side of the net before giving way to Cheyne Roberts (Plant City, Fla.) for PBA who kept the Fish alive at 3-2.

MC midfielder Joseph Barnes (Austin, Texas) would give PBA fans a glimmer of hope as his shot was deflected by Yurchak, maintaining the score at 3-2. Caleb Roberts, one of PBA’s toughest competitors all season long, was put into the spotlight next as his shot was cleanly saved by Williams to seal the game and the 2007 NCCAA national championship for the Mustangs of the Masters College.

After the game, fans, coaches, and players alike gathered around for the announcement of the all-tournament team as well as the presentation of the championship banner to the Masters College.

Four PBA players were named to the all-tournament team: goalkeeper Joseph Yurchak, forward Kyle Crouse, midfielder Jerris Gay, and defender Cheyne Roberts.

Yurchak completed three incredible games in goal for the Fish as he allowed only one goal while also earning a clutch victory for PBA in the semi-finals by limiting Mount Vernon to only two scores in the round of penalty kicks. Yurchak posted shutouts against both Central Baptist and Mount Vernon Nazarene.

Cheyne Roberts was named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the tournament after helping lead the PBA squad to the championship game while allowing only one goal. Roberts also scored the only goal of the contest for PBA in their opening-round win by delivering a successful penalty kick.

Roberts was also a part of history as he took home defensive honors in 2007 after being awarded the Outstanding Offensive Player of the tournament a year ago during his freshman campaign. A product of Plant City, Florida and one of three Roberts brothers involved in the Sailfish program, Cheyne completed his sophomore season as the leader in points for PBA.

After completing one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history, PBA fans have plenty to look forward to in the future as the Sailfish will lose only three players to graduation in seniors: Matt Sweesy, Rodrigo Dias, and Andrew Gerber.

On one of the busiest nights in recent memory for PBA athletics as four teams were in action, Gomez and the Fish couldn’t have been more happy with the support surrounding them in Kissimmee.

“I really want to thank all the men and women from Palm Beach Atlantic that came out to support us not only in this tournament but all season long,” said Gomez.

“The atmosphere they provided was amazing and I know the guys really appreciate all their support along with the support of our player’s parents,” continued Gomez.

Stay tuned to the PBA athletics website in the coming days as we will release a 2007 season review.

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