As the vuvuzelas and crowd grew quiet, Anderson University’s Paul Hill prepared to take his penalty kick with the shootout tied 2-2.
"This was the first time that we’ve ever ended a game with a shootout in the postseason," said Anderson University men's soccer coach Scott Fridley, still feeling the excitement of Thursday’s close match. "What a crazy way to end the game. There was a lot of excitement."
Hill, who scored the Ravens’ only goal in regulation, knocked it into the left side of the net, and his team and the Ravens’ faithful rushed the field to celebrate the thrilling victory over Franklin College by a score of 1-1 (3-2). [Photo: Anderson's Kingsley Kantande runs down the sideline with the ball as he is chased by Franklin's William Hilgendorf in first round of the HCAC tournament Wednesday at AU.]
"The only senior available on the field finished the fifth kick," said Fridley, who has five freshmen in his starting lineup.
The Ravens (9-5-6) advance to the finals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference to face Transylvania, a team that defeated the Ravens 1-0 in overtime last week.
"Congratulations to Anderson," said Franklin coach Shaun Mahoney. "We expected it to be close after tying earlier in the season. The unfortunate part of this one is that it’s a tie with an asterisk."
"Even though it goes down in the books as a tie, they get to keep playing and we don’t."
After two scoreless periods of overtime that saw each team attempt only three shots, the excitement began to mount for the penalty kick shootout.
The Grizzlies’ Cody Graman went first and scooted the kick past Ravens keeper Austin Howard.
The Ravens answered back as Matt Robinson drilled his attempt into the right side of the goal to tie the shootout at one.
Howard, a freshman, would then make two consecutive great plays.
Drew Ferguson for Franklin looked to have had his shot blocked the first time, but Howard was called for stepping forward too soon on the play, giving Ferguson another chance to put his team ahead.
Ferguson decided to try going left on the second attempt after getting stopped on the right side on the first try, but Howard was thinking the same thing and made another terrific save to give the Ravens a chance to take the lead.
"Great goalkeeping by freshman Austin Howard," said Fridley. "Unbelievable."
The Ravens’ Brad Rusche would do just that as he kicked the ball perfectly into the upper-right corner of the net.
Franklin and AU would both miss their next two attempts, leaving Franklin with only one more chance to tie the score up. Grant Krevda put his try into the goal on a very similar effort to Graman’s score earlier in the shootout, leaving Hill to finish off the match with his heroics.
"Their keeper made some good saves and so did ours," said Mahoney, "but we missed one of our shots which was a big difference."
One of Franklin’s misses went over the net, which didn’t force Howard to have to make a play on the ball.
The Ravens’ goal in regulation came in the sixth minute of play in the first period off of a throw in from Kyle Boyer.
Paul Hill took the throw in and delivered a beautiful curving ball into the upper-left corner of the net from 20 yards out.
"We got the goal early," said Fridley, "and we were able to get some control. Then, we started to just defend. I don’t know why we did that."
The Raven’s were outshot in the first period 9-3, but each team had only two shots on goal.
The Grizzlies came out in the second period and scored quickly much like the Ravens had in the first period.
The goal came in the 57th minute as Joel Fisher centered the ball to Krevda as he dribbled to the right and nailed his shot from 10-yards away.
"We got back into the play late in the second half and controlled the rest of the way," said Fridley.
Franklin outshot AU 17-13 in the game and had the advantage in corner kicks as well 6-2.
Franklin committed 14 fouls while AU had only 7.
Howard (7-1-5), a freshman, continued his fine play on the season with six saves and one goal allowed.
His counterpart in the net on Franklin’s side, Lucas Hill, had identical numbers with six saves and one goal allowed.
AU recently had its school-record 13-game streak without a loss broken by it’s upcoming opponent, Transylvania, and will look to repay the favor as they face off for the postseason conference championship on Saturday at Transylvania. The winner advances to the national tournament.
—Derek Kramer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.