Pioneers in final 4 after thrilling shootout

Pioneers in final 4 after thrilling shootout
Source: Wayland Baptist Athletics

Provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – The Wayland Baptist Pioneers' nine-game winning streak came to an end Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championships…and they couldn't be happier.

Wayland tied 15th-ranked, 12th-seeded Columbia College (Mo.), 1-1, but advanced after a penalty kick shoot-out, 5-4, to extend the Pioneers' historic season to the national semifinals at 3 p.m. CST Friday. WBU (16-5-2) will take on either second-ranked, top-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan (21-1-1) or ninth-ranked, eighth-seeded Georgia Gwinnett (13-3-2), who were set to play immediately after the Wayland-Columbia match.

The championship match is at 5 p.m. Saturday.

A watch party for Friday's match will take place in the Hall of Honor at Hutcherson Center. All are invited.

The national championship matches are being played at the Seacrest Soccer Complex. The NAIA Network is broadcasting all matches live for $9.95 for a single-day pass. Links are available at www.wbuathletics.com.

In Wednesday's shoot-out, Columbia (19-2-3) and Wayland made their first two shots, with Ricardo Ramos – who scored the game-winner in a 3-2, second-round win over Cardinal-Stritch (Wis.) on Monday – and James Quinn shooting for the Pioneers. Both teams then missed their third tries before each made their next two, with Lochlan Reus and Ross Brown doing the honors for WBU.

When Aaron Noel missed the final shot for Columbia, it opened the door for Wayland, and Luis Almeida took full advantage with a successful shot that pushed the Pioneers forward.

The advancement came after Wayland gave up a goal on the first shot of the match. Columbia's Matija Ceraj scored after a cross from the right just 4 minutes, 3 seconds in.

The Pioneers answered with the equalizer in the 22nd minute as James Westfield – who missed his PK – fired after a high cross from the right delivered by Almedia. It was Westfield's team-leading 13th goal of the season.

The next 88 minutes, 20 seconds – the rest of regulation and two, 10-minute overtimes – were scoreless, leading to the tension-filled shoot-out.

The Pioneers outshot Columbia, 17-14, including 8-7 shots on-goal. WBU goalkeeper Ziggy Camejo was credited with six saves.

Reus took a team-high six shots for Wayland, with half of those on-goal.

Wayland, which had won its previous nine matches, was one of just three unseeded teams out of the 32 that qualified for the national championships to advance to the final site. The Pioneers are the only one remaining, having eliminated one of the other two, Cardinal Stritch, on Monday. The other, Madonna (Mich.), also was ousted in the second round.

The other teams still alive in quarterfinal pairings are No. 3 seed Missouri Valley (17-2-3) against No. 6 seed Mobile, Ala. (14-3-3), and No. 2 seed William Carey, Miss. (18-1-1) against No. 10 seed Marymount, Calif. (17-3-2).