MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- Freshman Agust Arnarson netted his 16th goal of the season in the 52nd minute of the contest, as the Auburn University at Montgomery men's soccer team overcame an early deficit and defeated Jamestown (N.D.) University, 3-2, Monday in the NAIA Men's Soccer Championship at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex.
With the win, the second-seeded Warhawks improved to 18-3-2 on the season and will now await the winner of No. 7-seed MidAmerica Nazarene and Olivet Nazarene's match Tuesday evening. AUM and the victor will square off Wednesday, November 28, at 6:30 p.m.
"I thought the guys that needed to step for us in order to advance did that today," head coach Wulf Koch said. "I thought as a team today, we really struggled. We seemed to lack cohesiveness. Maybe it was the lay over or maybe it was the jitters of their first NAIA Tournament game. But soccer is a result-oriented game and at the end of the day we were able to move on."
Arnarson provided the late heroics, but sophomore Elvar Sigurdsson kept the Warhawks close early in the contest. The Kopavogur, Iceland, native, posted a pair of goals in the first half, including a go-ahead score at the 32:26 mark of the opening period. However, the Jimmies' (16-5-1) Jade Johnson matched Sigurdsson with two goals in the first half, as the two teams were deadlocked at the half, 2-2.
"Elvar finished two of his three opportunities in his first half," Koch said. "With him, Gusti, Angel and Sebastian, we generally have scoring chances. Teams can neutralize one, maybe two, of those guys, but they can't take away all four."
At the intermission each team had attempted just four shots, with neither AUM goalkeeper Vignir Johannesson nor Jamestown's Thomas Clarke recording a save. The duo had combined for 19 shutouts and 179 saves on the season entering the match, but in the opening half they combined for no saves and four goals allowed.
In the second period, the Warhawks took a pair of shots in the first two minutes, one by freshman Sebastian Wladyko and a follow-up by Sigurdsson. However, Cooke stopped both shots, but at the 52:14 mark of the contest, Arnarson slid his shot past him, netting the eventual game winner.
Defensively, Johannesson was again stellar. The junior captain notched just two saves in the match, but both came in the final 10 minutes and on legitimate goal-scoring opportunities.
"He showed great anticipation and reaction on that shot," Koch said of his goalkeeper. "The biggest thing for us is that he didn't give up a rebound. He held onto the ball. He was the difference in the game."
Johannesson added a save with 33 seconds remaining to preserve the victory.
For the match, Sigurdsson led all players with five shots, as the Warhawks outshot the Jimmies 13-8. Wladyko added four shots, while Arnarson attempted three. Johnson and Ben Eastwell finished with a pair of shots to lead Jamestown.
In addition to earning its first NAIA Championship victory since a 2-1 victory over Lindsey Wilson in 2007, AUM also recorded its 18th victory of the season. The mark is the most for the Warhawks since 2005, when they finished 23-2. The 18 wins are also the most in a season by Koch as the AUM men's coach.