ROCK HILL, S.C. – The 14th-ranked Carson-Newman men's soccer team (15-2-2) overcame a three-goal deficit to equalize late in regulation, remained tied 2-2 after two overtime periods, but fell 5-4 in penalty kicks in the semifinal round of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament to the Queens (N.C.) Royals (10-7) Friday afternoon at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C.
Queens scored three goals in the first 20 minutes of the contest to lead 3-0, but Carson-Newman overcame trailing by three-goals for the first time since 1999 to force overtime.
In the sixth-round of penalties, senior Polymnios Avgousti's (Paphos, Cyprus) attempt was saved by Queens goalkeeper Sergio Lemus who dove to his right and allowed the fourth-seeded Royals to upset the top-seed Carson-Newman.
"It's been a great season for the boys that will hopefully not the end for us today. We came out slow and conceded those three goals in the first 20 minutes before we picked up our play. We worked hard for a fantastic comeback," coach Richard Moodie said. "We had our chances in regulation and overtime. It's always tough to go out on PKs. There is no blame on any our of players who missed their attempts. We've got to move along and get into the national tournament."
Queens struck first in the ninth-minute. The Royals set up a counter-attack after a Carson-Newman pass that deflected off the center official. Freshman forward Bruno Andrade (Sao Paulo, Brazil) backtracked and slowed the attack with a sliding tackle that deflected to the left side of the 18-yard box and landed to the feet of Marc-Kevin Schwenk. The All-SAC Honorable Mention player took a shot that deflected off the foot of defender Sindre Welo (Trondheim, Norway) and trickled into the net to put Queens ahead 1-0.
Two minutes later, the Royals struck for their second goal. First-team All-SAC forward Corey Brown laid a ball out wide to Celes Vilar. The Spaniard finds Carson-Newman goalkeeper Kavi Luchowa (London, England) off his line and Vilar chipped his shot into the net and pushed Queens ahead 2-0. Brown tallied his 11th assist of the year on the paly.
A deflection off the end-line by a C-N defender set up a Queens corner in the 20th-minute. Schwenk's corner found the head of Austin Huddy in the middle of the box and Huddy headed his shot home to propel the Royals ahead 3-0.
After the Queens onslaught, Carson-Newman was able to settle into its game and regain possession. In the 24th-minute, the Eagles won a corner kick. Junior Tom Read (London, England) delivered the corner into the box that found the head of senior defender James Ward (Trine Cornwell, England), who sent a shot towards the frame. Ward's header was knocked down at the goal line but went straight to Welo; the first-team All-SAC defender poked his shot to the right past Royals goalkeeper Matt Current to cut the lead to 3-1 at the halftime break.
The Eagles pulled back the deficit to 3-2 in the 67th-minute. Read took a pass from defender Alexander White (Glasgow, Scotland) at the edge of the 18-yard box. Read sent a cross towards the far post to junior striker Marius Staalby (Trondheim, Norway); the second-team All-SAC forward headed the Read cross into the left corner of the net for the Eagles' second goal. The score was Staalby's eighth goal of the season.
Read capped his assist hat-trick in the 78th-minute off a free kick. The junior sent a cross to the far post that found the head of Ward, who knocked home his header to the left past Current to tie the contest at 3-3.
During the two overtime segments, Queens outshot C-N 5-2 with the Eagles registering just one in the final 10-minute stanza.
Heading into the penalty kicks, each team made a change in goal. Carson-Newman sophomore Luke Greer's (Northampton, England) first-career appearance came in penalties and Queens went with Lemus.
The first round held true as Brown and Welo both made their attempts. In the second round, Greer dove to his left and made a save on Caio Maciel, while Read made his kick to give C-N a 2-1 lead after two rounds. Each team's next two kickers found the back of the net as Staalby and freshman Bruno Andrade (Sao Paulo, Brazil) registered points for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman led 4-3 heading into the final round of the five-round shootout. Schwenk scored his attempt for Queens to tie the score at 4-4. Senior midfielder Rurik Pereira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) hit the cross bar on his attempt to give Queens hope and send the shootout to sudden death.
During the sixth-round, Issac Walker beat Greer to his right to score for Queens. Avgousti's original attempt was saved by Lemus, but the goalkeeper came off his line before the attempt and the save was deemed illegal. Avgousti's second-attempt was saved once again by Lemus to give the Royals a 5-4 shootout win.
The penalty kick loss was the first in Carson-Newman history; previously, the Eagles were unbeaten in their five shootouts. The Eagles are now 3-8-2 in SAC semifinal contests. C-N's unbeaten streak now runs to 10 matches.
The three-goal comeback was the first for C-N since rallying from three-goals down against Rollins in 1999 and winning 4-3 in regulation.
Read's three-assist performance is his second of the season, which ranks second for an individual game in Carson-Newman history. Read is now tied for the nation's lead with 16 assists, which is a school record. Read is tied with Sven Ricke of Francis Marion with the 16 contributions.
Schwenk's first goal in the ninth-minute snapped a streak of 673 minutes in which the Eagles had not trailed. The last time Carson-Newman had trailed before Friday's match was on Oct. 10th on the road at Catawba as the Indians last led at the 54th-minute mark. C-N had not trailed for seven games.
Welo broke the Carson-Newman record with his 76th-career appearance in the Orange and Blue in the start over Queens. Read now has 16 assists
The Eagles now await their fate in the NCAA Division II Soccer Championships as the selection show will be on Monday night at 6 p.m.