EVANS, Ga. – Top-seeded Lander failed to convert a pair of penalty kicks and fell to third-seeded Young Harris in the championship match of the 2016 PBC Men’s Soccer Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Blanchard Woods Park. The championship was tied 2-2 following regulation and two overtime periods. Young Harris won the title with a 4-3 edge in a penalty kick shootout.
The No. 18-ranked Bearcats, who were searching for their first tournament title since 2009, fall to 14-4 overall. The Mountain Lions improved to 11-6.
Lander fought to a scoreless tie at halftime behind six saves from goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy and took the lead at the 57:08 mark on a free kick goal from Hugo Delhommelle. The first-team all-PBC selection curled the shot just inside the right post, giving him his third goal of the tournament.
The lead did not last long, as Young Harris answered 28 seconds later on a follow from Carlos Gomez, who finished a header from Ramin Varnhorn to even the score at 1-1.
Young Harris rallied again at the 78:24 mark as Marco Micaletto buried a shot in the upper-right corner after Cowdroy punched out a corner kick attempt. The two teams played the final 11 minutes of regulation evenly to force overtime.
Lander had a golden opportunity in the waning seconds of the first overtime session. Off a corner kick, Jordan Selton’s header ricocheted off the crossbar. Ensuing shot attempts from Alex Garner and Oliver Brock were blocked before a second shot from Garner sailed high. After a scoreless second overtime, the match went to penalty kicks.
The Bearcats outshot Young Harris 21-20 in regulation and led 8-5 in corner kicks. Cowdroy made eight saves for Lander, while Sebastian Thomsson made three for Young Harris.
Both teams switched goalies following the second overtime, as Lander inserted Charlie Dixon for his first career action, while Young Harris brought in Anton Viden.
The Bearcats took the first shot of the penalty kick shootout and Jordan Skelton converted in the lower-left corner, followed by Anthony Tshimpi, who scored in the same spot. After Hugo Delhommelle and Jonny Denton each scored, Young Harris took the lead as Viden made a diving stop to his right on a shot attempt from Richard Bryan.
Micaletto then made his shot to give the Mountain Lions a 3-2 lead, but Oliver Brock answered for Lander to even the score. Sam Jones put Young Harris back on top 4-3 and Ghachem’s attempt for the Bearcat sailed wide left to give the Mountain Lions the title.
The match marked the third team in PBC men’s soccer history that the championship match was decided in a shootout.
Lander will now await the announcement of the 24-team field for the 2016 NCAA Southeast Regional. The field will be announced on Monday at 6:30 p.m.