Simon Fraser takes the edge in penalty kicks to stay alive in tournament
Denver, Colo. -- Simon Fraser was less than four minutes away from elimination but a late goal from Jovan Blagojevic tied it and the Clan won it in penalty kicks against UC-San Diego to clinch the program's second consecutive NCAA West Region title and a trip to the quarterfinals.
After 90 minutes of regulation and two 10 minute overtimes, the two sides were tied 1-1 before the Clan took the match 4-3 in penalty kicks.
The Clan outshot the Tritons 20-11 in the match including 8-1 in the second half and 6-2 in the first overtime.
UC-San Diego opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Alessandro Canale scored to give the Tritons a 1-0 lead with Cory Wolfrom getting the assist.
The Clan came out flying in the second half and while SFU generated chances, they could not solve the UC-San Diego goalkeeper and things became even more difficult when Lucas Ferritto received a red card in the 82nd minute, leaving the Clan to play a man down.
Despite the adversity, the Clan knotted the match in the 87th minute with just three minutes to go in the match.
The play started with a Colin Jacques throw in that was received by Magnus Kristensen who crossed it in to Blagojevic who made no mistake, scoring the goal and knotting the match at one.
"Every time we get a long throw it's huge for this team. It's really one of our strengths," said Blagojevic. "I know Magnus [Kristensen] is always going to get that ball in so I really just had to time my run perfectly and I was able to tip it in. This team is a family. We play as one. Everyone knows their job. We kept our composure and came out strong in the second half. We fought for each other and that's really what won us the game [Friday]."
Despite being a man down the Clan outshot the Tritons in overtime 8-5 but neither side scored and the game went to penalty kicks.
Jacques had the best chance of the two overtime periods with a breakaway late in the second overtime and Brandon Watson, who made four saves in the win, also made a big save in overtime to keep the game tied at 1-1,
After four rounds of penalty kicks the score was tied as Carlo Basso and Alex Rowley scored for the Clan while Luis Salas and Joseph Terry scored for UC-San Diego.
The two sides traded goals in the fifth round but after the Tritons missed on their sixth round attempt Jules Chopin capitalized on the opportunity, scoring on his attempt to give the Clan the win.
"You just try to make a save in the shootout and sometimes you get lucky and the ball hits the crossbar or sails wide. Our guys did an awesome job of finishing. We didn't come out with what we wanted in the first half but I thought in the second half we took it to them. It's been an amazing run so far and I just want to do whatever I can do to help keep it going."
The win clinches the Clan's second consecutive NCAA West Region championship and sends SFU to the quarterfinals.
"We were very poor in the first half. We challenged the lads at halftime to pick it up and they did. We hung in there until the end and Jovan [Blagojevic] scored another big goal for us. I think over the course of 110 minutes we were the better team but when you go to the lottery of penalty kicks, anything can happen. Thankfully Jules Chopin showed a lot of maturity and composure to bury the winner for us," head coach Alan Koch said.