PENSACOLA, Fla. — Cal Poly Pomona — a team that had never had an NCAA Tournament victory before this season — will be playing for its first-ever national championship.
The Broncos (17-2-3) claimed a 1-0 victory over Rockhurst (18-2-3) in the second semifinal match of the 2015 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship Thursday.
“This is probably the biggest win of our program’s history,” said Cal Poly Pomona head coach Yossi Raz. “We’re very excited we were able to perform well and prevail against very, very good Rockhurst team.”
Cal Poly Pomona advances to play Pfeiffer in Saturday’s championship game at 4 p.m. ET. The Broncos will take an eight-game winning streak into the final game of the season.
The program had made just one NCAA Tournament appearance (1998) before this year and never won an NCAA postseason match. The Broncos have now won four NCAA contests in 2015.
The game was scoreless for 83 minutes until senior forward Alexander Turkson (Coast City, Ghana) knocked in a goal on a corner kick opportunity. Eshel Chardon (Rosh Haain, Israel) found Justyn Peeples (Riverside, Calif.), who delivered a header that Turkson booted into the back of the net.
“I’m glad that Eshel had a great service, Justyn delivered the first header and Alex was hungry in the box and got in front of his defenders to get the ball in the net,” Raz said.
It was Turkson’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament game with a goal, and his ninth tally of the season.
“As an attacking-minded player it’s about keeping your feet moving and being alert,” Turkson said. “When the chance presented itself I was in the right moment at the right time.”
The Broncos outshot the Hawks, 13-9, and edged Rockhurst in corner kicks, 9-4.
“(Rockhurst) were a very disciplined team and very tough to break,” Raz said. “They had some opportunities to win and we had some opportunities to win it. We, as coaches, try to put players in positions where they’ll be comfortable.”
The match featured outstanding goalkeeping by both sides. Senior goalkeeper Fernando Pablo Quevedo (Santander, Spain) recorded four saves — including some incredible stops — to earn his seventh shutout of the season.
“You just want to make sure your job gets done to help the team as much as possible,” Quevedo said. “When there are moments of the game when you haven’t been doing that well, goalkeepers have to do their part.”
Rockhurst sophomore goalkeeper Logan Feldmann (Wentzville, Mo.), who had recorded 13 shutouts on the season, made six saves in the match, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
“Our players gave what they had tonight,” said Rockhurst head coach Tony Tocco. “I hated to see it end on this note because I think we’re a better team than what we showed, but Cal Poly had a lot to do with that.”
The Hawks were playing in their second NCAA semifinal in the past three years.
“You have to play a full 90 minutes,” said Rockhurst junior defender Paul Dean (Overland Park, Kan.). “In the second half we picked it up, but like Coach Tucco said, we had to execute. I think one thing we can all agree on is that we left it all out there on the field.”