Nov. 22, 2013
PALO ALTO, Calif. - By way of one of sports' cruelest tiebreakers, the LMU men's soccer 2013 season came to a heartbreaking end Thursday night. Knotted at one goal apiece through regulation and two golden goal overtime periods, the Lions came up on the short end of a 3-2 penalty kick shootout against the Stanford Cardinal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium.
Sixteen opening round men's soccer NCAA matches were contested Thursday night. Five ended in a penalty kick shootout to determine the advancing team.
The Lions finish with a 13-4-3 overall record, their first-ever outright West Coast Conference title and the program's sixth NCAA Tournament appearance. Stanford moved to 9-6-4 overall and will face No. 15 Cal State Northridge Sunday in the tournament's second round.
Stanford was the aggressor out of the gates, earning an 11-2 shot advantage in the first half, including four shots on frame. Time and time again it was Palo Alto native, and recently named WCC Goalkeeper of the Year, Paul Blanchette who kept the slate clean as four huge first-half saves sent the teams into the locker room in a scoreless stalemate.
LMU slowly began to find its pace in the second half as an early shot by Ryan Felix forced Cardinal goalkeeper Drew Hutchins to make his first save of the night. Finally, with just less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, freshman Adrien Perez, who had been held silent for much of the night, found his opening.
Taking a pass from John McFarlin on the right flank, Perez controlled the ball to his left, then sent a blistering left-footed shot into the right side of the goal from 25 yards out. His team-leading 11th goal of the season of of McFarlin's LMU single-season record 11th assist gave LMU a 1-0 lead with 7:20 on the clock.
But Stanford was not finished. With just 17 seconds remaining, Zach Batteer was able to sneak home the equalizer from 12 yards out. Both teams were kept off the board in two 10-minute overtime periods, setting up the PK shootout.
Again it was Blanchette, who finished with eight saves in the match, who gave LMU the upper hand. The sophomore made saves on each of Stanford's first two PK attempts, Craig Nitti knocked home the first attempt for LMU and the Lions held a 1-0 advantage through two rounds. But the Cardinal made good on their final three attempts while LMU made just one of its final three as the merciless tiebreaker sent the Cardinal into the next round.