Men’s soccer falls in tourney final

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

In a battle of two of the top five teams in the NAIA, No. 5 Missouri Valley knocked off No. 3 Baker 2-1 in double overtime Friday night to win the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament championship at Liston Stadium. The Vikings will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA tournament and Baker will now rely on an at-large bid.

Both teams went scoreless through the first 45 minutes with minimal offense from either team. At the break Baker had three shots and Missouri Valley had only two shots. Missouri Valley missed on a free kick that banged off the left post.

Junior Kyle Young got the scoring going in the 56th minute off of a corner kick from senior Austin Shiney. Young’s header was placed into the front right corner for a 1-0 Baker lead.

In the 69th minute, Missouri Valley responded with a goal off of a corner kick. Heart Offensive Player of the Year Raul Beneit whipped the corner off the head of George Limbert and his header hit the crossbar and into the net. Limbert’s equalizer evened the tempo for the final 21 minutes and both teams remained scoreless.

Missouri Valley had one final chance at the end of regulation off of a set piece from near midfield. Junior goalkeeper Ryan Emme came off his line to try and grab the ball in midair but was tripped and fell. With an empty net, Valley sent a pass across the face of goal but no Viking could put a foot the low cross. At the end of regulation it was 1-1.

In the first sudden death overtime neither team had many chances. After the first 10 minutes it was still 1-1.

In the second overtime both teams held their ground and after nine minutes it appeared that the game would go to penalties. But in the 110th minute of the match the Vikings caught a break and had numbers on Baker. Slaven Baskalo sent a ball to the right side of the 18-yard box for Rafael Alcaraz.

With 35 seconds to go Alcaraz, chipped the sliding Emme and the ball took one hop into the back of the net for the victory. The Wildcats were 35 seconds from forcing penalties and potentially winning but the defense collapsed in the final moments.

Since Missouri Valley claimed the Heart’s automatic bid to the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship, the Wildcats will have to receive an at-large bid, which they likely will.

The Wildcats will find out where and when they’ll play during the live national championship selection show on Monday at noon.