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Men's Soccer - Sat. Nov. 23, 2013

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- After playing to a 3-3 double-overtime tie, the Auburn Montgomery men's soccer team advanced to the second round of the NAIA Championship Tournament when sophomore Mathis Kroeger converted his attempt in the 10th round of a shootout.

Officially recorded as a tie, the Warhawks are now 13-6-1 on the season, while Thomas ended its season at 15-3-3.

AUM advanced after it outscored the Night Hawks (15-3-3) 7-6 in the shootout, in which head coach Wulf Koch turned to freshman goalkeeper Phillip Hitpass, rather than First-Team All-American Vignir Johannesson.

"We have been practicing the defending of penalty kicks since we started postseason play," Koch said. "Philliip has been very difficult to score on, so we decided we were going to go with him in the conference tournament. I didn't have to make the decision in the conference tournament, but today, I just followed my gut and it paid dividends."

The two squads mirrored results through the first four kicks of the shootout, while the Warhawks had an attempt to advance in the match on the fifth attempt after a diving stop by Hitpass. However sophomore Sebastian Wladyko's attempt sailed high, sending the match to sudden death. Each team converted three of their first five penalty kicks.

Following a miss and a pair of makes in the shootout, Jake Slocombe gave the Night Hawks an opportunity to continue their season. Senior Eyjolfur Eyjolfsson was initially stopped on his attempt, but the referee ruled that Thomas goalkeeper Alex Condell left his line early and awarded Eyjolfsson a second attempt, which he converted to send the shootout to round 10.

In the 10th round, Hitpass stopped Danny Zevallos' attempt, but was also ruled to have left the line early. Hitpass followed by stopping a second attempt by Zevallos to set the stage for Kroeger.

"I have never seen a shootout go this many rounds," Koch said. "The resiliency of this group showed early on. We fell down and they scratched back to tie the score. And then again in the second half, they found a way to rally to tie the score. I also want to give credit to Thomas University. They were a very good team and know from experience how tough it is to end your season that way. At this point, we will take the shootout win and wait to see who we play next week."

In regulation, the Night Hawks dictated the pace early, as Lyle Gifford found the back of the net in the just for the fourth minute of the match. Gifford recovered an attempt by Jarrod Ingram that hit the post and drilled it past Johannesson to give Thomas a quick 1-0 lead.

Thomas doubled its lead 17:02 into the match, when Rowan Liburd played the ball into an awaiting Ingram, who then rifled it in for the Night Hawks.

Trailing 2-0, the Warhawks responded in the 25th minute, when sophomore Niklas Hunold headed in a corner kick by Wladyko. The corner, which curled into the 18-yard box to find a leaping Hunold, was set up by a blocked shot off the foot of Wladyko.

After 17 minutes of scoreless play, senior Vitor Silva netted the equalizer just 3:17 before the half, when he collected the ball off a blocked shot and blasted it past Condell.

Ingram broke the tie in the 60th minute of the match, when he was on the receiving end of a pass from Gifford, and gave the Night Hawks a 3-2 advantage.

Once again Auburn Montgomery rallied for a game-tying goal, as freshman defender Tim Kayser slammed home his first career goal at the 64:35 mark of the match. Kayser, like Silva, collected a blocked shot and drilled his shot just underneath the cross bar for the tying goal.

Late in regulation, Johannesson proved why he earned All-American honors as a junior, when he stopped a shot by Gifford in a breakaway opportunity with just 2:34 to play. The Night Hawks also had a game-changing scoring chance two minutes early, but Ingram's attempt bounced off the cross bar and the ball was cleared from the scoring box.

In the overtime periods, the Warhawks attempted two shots, both of which were blocked by Thomas. The lone attempt by the Night Hawks was by Ingram and was stopped by Johannesson.

In the match, AUM outshot Thomas 24-15, while also attempted five corner kicks, compared to just three by the Night Hawks. Wladyko attempted a team-high seven shots for the Warhawks, while Ingram paced all players with eight shots.

Johannesson tallied five saves in the match, while Condell finished with three saves.

The Warhawks will turn their attention to the winner of Benedictine and Olivet Nazarene. The match will be played on either Monday, Dec. 2 or Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex.