The lone team from Pennsylvania in the NCAA Division II men’s soccer final four, West Chester University, anchored by a goalkeeper playing on very familiar turf in his hometown, pulled out an exciting 2-1 win in overtime over Cal Poly Pumona at Highmark Stadium on Saturday to advance to the National Championship game on Saturday (12 Noon).
The Golden Rams’ Jason Pixley scored the game winner in the 95th minute.
“I am really proud of our guys and how they continued to fight throughout the game,” said WCU head coach Michael Benn. “Cal Poly Pomona is a very good team. But, we never buckled, and despite facing a lot of adversity, we just kept battling and came out on top. The entire team played very well, and (Will) Marshall was huge in goal with Pixley coming through in the clutch as he has throughout the season.”
West Chester will take on Barry University (FL), who won a hard-fought match that went to penalty kicks after over Fort Hays University (KS), after neither side could score in the run of play for 120 minutes. It was goalkeeper Marco Sordi who came up big for Barry — making three penalty kick saves in the seven-round shootout.
“There is no strategy to be honest. You just try to not get scored on,” Sordi said after the match.
Both game recaps along with photo galleries from our Ed Thompson are below.
Ed Thompson Photo Gallery (West Chester vs Cal Poly Pumona)
GAME SUMMARY – West Chester 2, Cal Poly Pumona 1, OT
Fighting for a berth in the National Championship Game on Saturday afternoon, the West Chester University men’s soccer team (16-2-5) squared off against West Coast opponent Cal Poly Pomona (17-7-0) on a cold November afternoon. Jason Pixley (Philadelphia, Pa./Central) scored yet another game-winning goal to lift West Chester to the 2-1 overtime victory, thus, advancing West Chester to its first Division II National Championship Game in program history.
In the first half of play, each side applied pressure, but strong defensive play particularly from goalkeeper Will Marshall (North Versailles, Pa./East Allegheny) who made a pair of huge saves to keep the game tied at 0-0.
The Broncos opened the scoring in the 56th minute, when Eduardo Faria took an assist from Omar Green to give Cal Poly Pomona the 1-0 lead. However, West Chester was far from finished as the Golden Rams answered back when Eric Greer (Chadds Ford, Pa.) scored the his first career collegiate goal in the 61st minute, which eventually forced overtime.
Pixley’s game winner came in the 95th minute off an assist from Daniel Grindrod (Feasterville, Pa./Neshaminy) to send West Chester to its first Division II men’s soccer National Championship Game.
Marshall had a huge day in goal making five big saves while his counterpart Jakob Hansen made three saves of his own in the loss.
Cal Poly Pomona ended the contest with a 15-10 edge in overall shots. But, West Chester held a 6-5 advantage in shots on goal and a crucial 2-1 advantage on the scoreboard at the end of the goal. Cal Poly Pomona also ended the contest with a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.
GAME SUMMARY – Barry 0, Fort Hays State 0, Barry wins 5-4 in penalty kick shootout
The Barry Buccaneers used a stifling defense to shutout the high-powered Fort Hays State Tigers 0-0 in the semifinals of the national tournament at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa.,as part of the NCAA Division II Fall Sports Festival.
Barry advanced to the national championship game 5-4 on eight rounds of penalty kicks, thanks to three terrific saves by keeper Marco Sordi.
Remarkably, Sordi has now faced 18 penalty kicks and has allowed only eight conversions.
“I’m extremely proud to be sitting here next to the two guys (keeper Sordi and defender Stephen Kosmala). They are incredibly great leaders who have helped revive a program, that has history, but like anything you sometimes have to remind yourself what it takes to be special.” — Barry head coach Steve McCrath
“I try to just get them to forget the occasion, to get the pressure off your chest as much as possible,” Kosmala said. “I just tried to stay in everyone’s ear. ‘No pressure, we’ve done this in training multiple times.”
In penalty kicks, Barry got conversions from Stephen Kosmala, Lorenzo Cerrai, James Kirkham, Jack Parker and Ivan Barriga. Sordi saved shots FHSU’s Sergio Villalba,Moises Peralta and Cisse. Luis Torres missed the final shot to send the Bucs into the championship.
It was only the second time this year that high-powered Fort Hays State for the just the second time this season. The Tigers had entered the contest as the top scoring team in NCAA Division II at over 3.5 goals per game.
Sordi made seven saves for the Bucs, plus three more in the shootout. It was his ninth shutout of the season.
Pina made four saves for FHSU, while Fisch had three over the last 55:05 in relief.
The Bucs are back in the national championship game for just the second time in school history and the first time since 2000. The Bucs fell 2-1 to Cal State-Dominguez Hills in four overtimes.