Saint Mary ends men’s campaign in title match

Saint Mary scored two second-half goals to defeat the Tabor College men’s soccer team 2-0 in the championship game of the KCAC soccer tournament in Hillsboro Saturday. The league champion Bluejays’ season ended with a 15-4 record. The second-seeded Spires advance to the regional tournament.

Saint Mary dominated possession in the game with Tabor’s best scoring chance coming in the 26th minute when KCAC offensive player-of-the-year Casey Barton was tripped in the penalty box.

Barton’s ensuing penalty kick slid wide of the goal, however, and the Bluejays mustered few further serious threats at the Spires’ goal.

The game remained scoreless until the 66th minute when a Saint Mary free kick snuck underneath the leaping Bluejay defensive wall and into the net.

Tabor followed the goal with some of its best possessions of the game but was unable to tie the match. With the Bluejay defense pressing forward, Saint Mary iced the game on a counter-attack with three minutes remaining.

“Up until they scored a goal, we didn’t play well,” said Tabor coach Nathan Wilkey. “We had a few games like this early in the year. You hate to have one now.”

Wilkey credited Saint Mary’s effort and tactics in the match.

“They pressured us more than most teams and we don’t handle that very well,” he said. “We outworked teams this year. That’s how we won games. We didn’t outwork them today.”

The Bluejays managed three shots at goal and the Spires had 11.

Tabor advanced to the conference title match with a shootout win over Bethany in Hillsboro Wednesday. The game went to penalty kicks after neither team could alter the 2-2 regulation score in an extra hour of overtime play.

David Heim scored both Tabor goals on assists from Michael Zollinger. The first goal came in the 36th minute and was the only score of the first half.

Bethany seized possession of the play in the second half and knotted the score with 30 minutes remaining. Heim answered 10 minutes later to put Tabor up 2-1.

Zollinger drew a penalty kick with 12 minutes left but Barton’s try was saved on a nice dive by the Bethany goalkeeper. The Swedes knotted the score in the 81st minute.

Neither team could score in the four 15-minute overtime periods. Each team selected five players to try penalty kicks in the shootout.

Bethany kicked first and made good on their initial effort. Zollinger answered to knot the score at 1-1.

Bluejay goalkeeper Joe Stutzman dove to save Bethany’s next try and Dylan Pohlman connected for Tabor. Stutzman saved the third Swede effort and Barton’s kick put the Bluejays up 3-1.

A Bethany make and a Scott Friesen miss left the score at 3-2 before Stutzman stuffed the final Swede shooter to end the match and begin the celebration on the field.

Stutzman, who saved three of the five Bethany kicks, said he tried to pay attention to the Swede players’ habits previously during the game.

“I see where they went earlier in the game,” he said. “I watch some foot plant, some body language. It’s mostly just luck.”

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