MARSHALL, MO. – The last five minutes of Saturday evening’s game determined a repeat NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship final site appearance for the Drover men.
A win 2-0 over the ninth-seeded Missouri Valley Vikings earned the Drovers a spot in the second round – the round of 16 – for the second year in a row.
“It was a great game,” Coach Jimmy Hampton said. “The boys played well versus a good side at their home.”
The Drovers go on to the final site in Orange Beach, Ala., and play eighth-seeded Azusa Pacific at noon on Nov. 29. Azusa Pacific defeated Cal State San Marcos 4-1.
The Drovers’ Saturday evening game was a defensive battle for much of the 90 minutes. USAO was outshot 10-5 in the first half but had an opposite experience in the second half with 10 shots to the Vikings’ two.
First year Drover Kalowera Okot led the Drovers to their second wind just minutes before a potential overtime.
“With just five minutes left in the game, Okot hit a 20-yard bomb of a second ball,” Hampton said.
Just minutes later with 50 seconds left in regulation, Niall Crick broke free, beat the keeper and played to Okot for an empty netter. The Drovers won it 2-0.
“It was a great job defensively with our back four and keeper Bryan Byars,” Hampton said of the game. “Just a great win versus a well-coached, excellent team.”
Byars had a season-high nine saves for the Drovers on Saturday. He earned his 16th win and 10th shutout of the season.
The Drovers are now 3-2 in the national tournament. They continue on in the post season with a 17-4 overall record in 2011.