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EOU bests SOU on PKs

SPRINGFIELD — The Southern Oregon men’s soccer team has still never lost a game in the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank, but there was no consolation as the Raiders watched Eastern Oregon celebrate and advance in Wednesday night’s semifinals.

For the third time in four seasons and second year in a row, SOU was eliminated in penalty kicks at Les Schwab Sports Park — its only miss striking the crossbar and bouncing in front of the goal line. Fifth-seeded EOU converted all five of its tries and got to celebrate despite squandering a 2-0 lead over the final 30 minutes of regulation in the 2-2 draw.

A night after also getting past Oregon Tech in PKs, the Mountaineers (9-8-3) moved on to face regular-season champion Corban in today’s final, automatically securing the CCC’s second bid to the NAIA Championships Opening Round on Nov. 22-23.

The Raiders (13-5-2), unbeaten in 10 straight games, will have to wait until Monday’s selection show and cling to an outside shot at one of the 19-20 at-large bids to the national postseason. The 46-team field will be announced at 10 a.m.

The result was especially devastating given the Mountaineers only put two shots on goal and had been shut out in all five previous matchups with the Raiders. Alexander Zuluaga gave them their first series goal five minutes into the game, taking an assist from Elvis Pavon, and Patrick Larsen headed in Erik Mattice’s corner kick five minutes before halftime.

SOU turned up the pressure in the second half — the Raiders finished with advantages of 22-8 in shots and 10-2 in shots on goal — and finally broke through in the 63rd minute when Luis Aguilar finished a Junior Rivas assist for his third goal of the season. With eight minutes left in regulation, the Raiders were awarded a penalty kick as a result of a hand-ball in the box and Michael Miller sliced it in for the equalizer.

After two quiet overtime sessions that produced just one shot on goal, the Mountaineers were perfect in PKs. Javier Moran, Alexander Zuluaga, Jack Rose and Pavon converted first, and Mattice delivered the clincher.

Luis Aguilar, Alan Gaytan, Brendan Allen and Kelly Gieber made their attempts for the Raiders. On the team’s third attempt, Miller’s was the shot that hit the crossbar, not long after the two-time CCC Defensive Player of the Year tallied the third penalty-kick goal of his career.

Corban advanced in the other semifinal with a 4-3 decision over seventh-seeded Evergreen (Wash.), scoring the game-winner with one minute left in regulation. The Warriors and Mountaineers will meet at 11 a.m. today.

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