WAYNE – The Kean University men’s soccer team advances to the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship Game, as they move past #2 William Paterson University by way of penalty kicks in the NJAC semifinals at Pioneers Soccer Park on Wednesday evening.
The sixth-seeded Cougars (9-10-3) had the 4-1 advantage in penalty kicks to advance to the NJAC Championship Game on Friday, November 5, at 7 p.m., at top-seeded The College of New Jersey, a 3-1 shootout winner over Montclair State University in the other semifinal on Tuesday evening.
Sophomore Guilherme Argollo opened the shootout for Kean, and despite his attempt being partially blocked by Pioneer keeper Zach Collins, the ball rolled into the net for the Cougars. After Pioneer Matthew Heitmann scored to the right side to even the shootout at 1-1, Kean sophomore Tiago Goetzke easily found the open net on the left side for the 2-1 Kean advantage.
Kean senior goalkeeper Alfredo Oquendo, who was inserted into the game in the final 20 seconds of the second overtime to be eligible to mind the net in the shootout, came up big on the Pioneers’ second attempt, diving to the right to stop Mike Lowe’s attempt.
The Cougars extended the advantage to 3-1 when sophomore Abner Denis’ shot was untouched, before the Pioneers’ third attempt sailed over the crossbar, allowing Kean’s Dennis Correia to advance the Cougars to the championship game with his strike to the right side.
After a scoreless first half, the Cougars took a 1-0 lead just minutes into the second half when Correia took a corner kick for Kean that Collins tried to clear for the Pioneers, but the ball bounced into the net for the Cougar goal at 47:49.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Pioneers (13-3-3) tied the game following the quick pass from Ryan Miller to NJAC Defensive Player of the Year Chris Belan, who finished to the right side.
The two teams had a scoreless battle for the remainder of the second half and both overtime sessions. Kean held a slight 14-13 edge in shots, including a 6-4 advantage in the overtime sessions.
Kean freshman Tyler Callahan made four saves, as he played nearly the entire regulation, before yielding to the more experienced Oquendo for the shootout. Collins made five saves for the Pioneers.
The Cougars seek the program’s ninth NJAC championship and the first since the Cougars won the second of back-to-back championships in 1998.
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