Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania men's soccer team is headed back to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship game for the second straight season after the Pioneers advanced 5-4 on penalty kicks over the Rose-Hulman Fightin' Engineers at Pat Deacon Stadium on Tuesday night in the HCAC semifinal match.
The matchup was the second between the two teams in four days, and for the second time, neither side was able to muster a goal in 110 minutes of full-time play.
With even higher stakes at play in Tuesday's successive playoff meeting, the Engineers and Pioneers returned to the familiar Pat Deacon pitch aiming to extend their respective seasons as they fought for a chance at a title game berth.
After two early chances for the Fightin' Engineers, the Pioneers' best look at a goal in the first half came in the 22nd minute when junior forward Alex Shkraba received a pass in the box and sent a header just wide of the Rose-Hulman goal, leaving the game scoreless at the halftime intermission.
Ten minutes into the second half, senior midfielder Tyler Joy-Brandon blasted a shot towards goal from 40 yards away, but the Rose-Hulman goalie came up with the save and the score remained level at 0-0.
Rose-Hulman's attack heated up over the final ten minutes of regulation as the Fightin' Engineers earned six corner kicks and put immense pressure on the Pioneers' back line. However, there were no goals to be had and the teams headed to extra time.
A scoreless first overtime saw Transylvania junior goalie Drew Grisham make a pair of spectacular saves to force a second period of extra time.
The Fightin' Engineers controlled the ball for much of the second overtime, and Grisham came through with another primetime save to force a penalty-kick shootout.
After the two teams each converted their first two attempts, Rose-Hulman's goalie made a diving save to give the Fightin' Engineers a 3-2 lead.
However, the Pioneers responded with a stop by Grisham followed by a pair of makes from Joy-Brandon and senior midfielder Jonathan Rase to level the shootout at 4-4 and force the sudden-death portion of the penalty shootout.
In the 6th round, Grisham stopped the Rose-Hulman attempt, and sophomore defender Zach Hill sent his shot into the back of the net to seal the 5-4 victory for the Pioneers.
Grisham was sensational in net for the Pioneers, tallying eight saves while not allowing a Rose-Hulman goal in 110 minutes of action. Grisham stopped two attempts during the penalty-kick shootout, capped off by the indelible save in the sixth and final round which delivers the Pioneers into Saturday's HCAC Championship round.
Awaiting the Pioneers in the HCAC championship game are the No. 1 seed Hanover College Panthers. In their only meeting this season, the Pioneers took a 1-0 victory from the Panthers in Lexington on October 17. First touch between the Pioneers and the Panthers is set for 2:00 p.m. Saturday at the Panther Athletic Complex in Hanover, Indiana.
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