ORANGE BEACH, ALA. – Defending national champions Hastings College ended one of USAO men’s soccer’s best seasons on Wednesday afternoon in the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Quarterfinals.
The Drovers earned their spot in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row after beating ninth-seeded Missouri Valley on the road Nov. 19 and eighth-seeded Azusa Pacific on Tuesday.
“We lost to an excellent team today. I’m so proud of our boys for their spirit and their fight,” head coach Jimmy Hampton said after Wednesday’s game. “I feel like maybe I could have prepared them better. My boys did everything I asked of them.”
The Drovers battled the first half of Wednesday’s game on both ends of the field, and the game went into halftime scoreless. But Hastings came out strong in the second half and knocked in three goals before USAO could answer with one of its own.
Senior midfielder Niall Crick scored USAO’s goal just four minutes before regulation ended. Perry Sansford had the assist.
Starting keeper and All-Conference First Team player Bryan Byars had a career high 11 saves in the game, many of which were diving ones.
The Drovers played most of the game without SAC Defensive MVP Scott Parkinson, who sustained a knee injury in Tuesday’s match.
USAO ends the season with a record of 18-5, breaking the school record for most wins in a season.
“We have a great team, but better yet a great group of young men,” Hampton said. “I will miss the senior class greatly and am honored and grateful to be part of their lives. It is still a great day to be a Drover.”