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Men’s soccer: Aurora University’s season ends with shootout loss

AurorUniversity's Joe Palomar pushes ball upfield during Wednesday's match against Concordia-Wisconsin. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

Aurora University's Joe Palomar pushes the ball upfield during Wednesday's match against Concordia-Wisconsin. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 2, 2012 2:13PM

A freshman tore the heart of the Aurora University men’s soccer team Wednesday afternoon at Vago Field.

That freshman, Concordia-Wisconsin’s Ryan Carey, scored the deciding goal as the Falcons eliminated the Spartans in a shootout in the semifinals of the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament.

The two teams, which had played a double overtime game (a 3-2 AU win) during the regular season, played to a 1-1 tie after 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.

Carey’s goal gave Concordia (11-7-2) a 4-3 win in the shootout and advanced the Falcons to Saturday’s championship game against No. 1 seeded Dominican, a 2-1 winner over MSOE Wednesday.

“We knew going in it was going to be tough,” AU coach Amir St. Clair said. “When it comes down to PKs (penalty kicks), it’s hard because you put things in the hands of somebody else’s ability.”

Concordia jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Tyler Harris slapped in a rebound after AU goalie Ethan Cashen had stopped a shot from the right wing by Jacob Pope. That gave the Falcons a 1-0 halftime lead.

The Spartans, who finished the year with a 12-5-2 record, tied the game on a second half goal by Corey Novotny following a scrum in front of the Concordia goal.

That’s how it remained until Carey’s goal ended it.

“I thought we played a pretty sound game overall,” St. Clair said. “We had our chances but we just didn’t capitalize.”

In fact, the Spartans had four great chances to score in the second half but were turned away all four times.

Neither team did much in the two overtimes but the Falcons jumped right out to a 1-0 lead in the shootout. The Spartans did battle back to tie the score at 3-3 on their fifth try at getting a shot past Falcon keeper Sam Ische.

That left it up to Carey and the freshman didn’t disappoint. Cashen guessed Carey would try to beat him to his right and Carey went the other way to send the Falcons into the title game.

AU did play through some adversity. Fabio Aiello, AU’s second leading goal scorer, went down with an injury 14 minutes into the game and was helped to the sidelines. He didn’t return.

Then, fifth-year senior Victor Ramirez was injured four minutes into the second half, returned with 22 minutes remaining and left for good minutes later.

Aiello’s injury really stung.

“That changed the things that we do,” St. Clair said. “But we are deep enough to get back in but, mentally, certainly that was tough and Victor was the emotional heart of the team.”

While the loss was hard to take, the Spartans did make strides this season.

“We are playing quality soccer and doing it the right way,” St. Clair said. “I’m really proud of the players. I wish we could have gone farther but I’m very excited about next year.”

Carey and the Falcons are just excited about Saturday.

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