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CC Soccer advances in National Tournament

The Columbia College Men’s soccer team advanced to the NAIA round of 16 Saturday in penalty kicks.The Cougar men’s soccer team tied Cardinal Stritch (Wisc.) University 0-0 on Saturday afternoon in the 2012 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Opening Round, but was able to advance to the next round of the tournament via penalty kicks after two scoreless overtimes. Columbia, ranked No. 10 in the NAIA, moves to 14-1-6 on the year and advances to the second round of the National Championships for the second time in Cougar history. The season ends for the Wolves with a record of 13-4-3.

Both teams opened the match with a strong defensive effort as the first half came to a close at a scoreless tie. The Cougars logged six shots (two on-goal) in the first 45 minutes and limited Cardinal Stritch to just one shot in the opening frame. Rafael Ramos had a clean shot-on-goal towards the end of the first half, but a Wolves defender was in perfect position to block the attempt and keep the score knotted at 0.

The second half saw much of the same as neither defense allowed the opposing offense much to work with over the final 45 minutes of regulation as the game was sent to overtime. In the two overtime periods, both teams would threaten but the defenses would again prevail as the 20 minutes of extra time expired.

In the penalty kick round, both teams would misfire on their first kicks. Matt McKenna recorded a diving save on Curtis Hunter’s shot and Rafael Ramos hit the left post on his attempt. Both squads would respond by connecting on their next seven kicks before Cardinal Stritch’s Gustavo Esquivel hit the crossbar on his team’s ninth kick of the round. That miss set the stage for Columbia’s Antonio Ayres’ game-winner that he was able to sneak past Wolves goalie Jim Jones and send the Cougars into the next round of postseason play.

McKenna played the entire game in goal for Columbia, posting one save during regulation and the two overtime periods. Cardinal Stritch combined for two shots (one on-goal) on the day, while the Cougars posted 11 shots (two on-goal) for the game.

The Cougars will travel to Montgomery, Ala. for the remaining rounds of the national tournament, which begins on Monday, November 26th. Columbia will take on the winner of Mobile (Ala.) University and Texas Wesleyan University on Tuesday, November 27th at 1:30 p.m.

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