Hanover, Ind. – The Transylvania men's soccer team is headed back to the NCAA Tournament, advancing 3-1 on penalty kicks over the Hanover College Panthers in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game at the HC Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.
It's the second-straight HCAC Tournament Championship for the Pioneers, who defeated a familiar Rose-Hulman side 2-1 in double overtime last season to capture the crown and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The win moves Transylvania's record to 8-4-6 overall while the Panthers wrap up their 2018 campaign at 12-6-1.
Junior goalie Drew Grisham was named HCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player for his spectacular performance in net as he allowed just one goal while collecting 10 saves in the match. The junior also stopped two of Hanover's attempts in the penalty shootout.
No stranger to thrilling postseason goals, sophomore midfielder Garrett Dean gave the Pioneers an early 1-0 lead when he blasted a shot into the upper-right corner of the Panther goal less than five minutes into the match.
Hanover responded in the 20th minute when a Transylvania foul set up the Panthers with a free kick that Josh Hughes sent into the back of net past the outstretched hands of Grisham, leveling the score at 1-1
The score remained even into the second half as the two teams fought for supremacy on a wet and muddy pitch.
Adversity manifested for Transylvania in the 71st minute when the Pioneers went a man down following a red card. While the moment appeared to present Hanover the edge it needed to capture glory, the Pioneers' defense held and the score remained 1-1 after 90 minutes of play.
The first overtime period was all Hanover as the Panthers outshot Transylvania 4-0. However, the Pioneers' line would not be broken and the game remained deadlocked at 1-1.
Two minutes into the second overtime period, senior forward Tyler Joy-Brandon created Transylvania's lone opportunity of extra time, but his shot was saved by the Hanover goalie, forcing the two sides into a penalty kick shootout.
Following a save by Grisham in round one of the penalty shootout, freshman Jak Birdsong buried his attempt in the right corner of the net to give Transylvania a 1-0 lead.
Hanover's Carlos Schryver and Transylvania sophomore Zach Hill each buried their shots in the ensuing set of kicks, pushing the score to 2-1 in favor of Transy.
After each team missed in the third round, Grisham came up with another huge stop to put victory in sight for the Pioneers. Transylvania junior Caswell Fuller stepped to the mark and buried his attempt in the far-left corner, sealing the 3-1 victory and sending the Pioneers' sideline into celebration.
Transylvania will learn of its next opponent when the NCAA pairings are announced during the tournament selection show on Monday afternoon, November 5, at 1:00 p.m. on NCAA.com
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