BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In its third NCAA Championship appearance in the last four seasons, the UAB men’s soccer team tied, 1-1 in regulation, and fell in a heartbreaker in penalty kicks, 4-3, to Furman Thursday night at West Campus Field.
“Soccer is a cruel sport sometimes,” head coach Mike Getman said. “The team that controls the play and creates the chances doesn’t always win. Penalty kicks are a method of finding a winner. Tonight I thought the guys did exactly what we wanted them to do and they played a great game. There’s just not an explanation for why sometimes this happens in this sport.”
The Paladins will advance to the second round to face the No. 14 overall seed Washington on Sunday, while UAB’s eighth NCAA Tournament appearance season ends at 11-7-2.
Both teams scored in the first half, making the final 65 minutes an intense scoreless period to eventually send the match into a shootout.
Ian Svantesson put UAB on the board in the 13th minute when Alex Clay dished an assist to give the Blazers the early advantage. Furman responded 24 minutes later when the team’s leading scorer, Lewis Hawke, provided the equalizer off an assist from Tony Santibanez.
Both teams’ first two penalty kicks were good, as Freddy Ruiz and Diego Navarrete put their shots in the net to bring the shootout to two a piece. Clay lined up next for the Blazers, but Furman’s goalkeeper Sven Lissek made a great play to keep UAB’s shootout total to two after three rounds. After Svantesson connected on his attempt, Dajani’s shot was then saved by Lissek to end the shootout, 4-3, and send the Paladins to the second round.
UAB outshot Furman, 13-4 in regulation, and put six of its shots on target led by three from Ruiz. The two teams combined for 42 fouls on the night as the Paladins totaled five saves while UAB goalie Joe Kuzminsky had two.
“I thought it was a great season,” Getman said. “I thought our team played well every single match. We didn’t win them all, but we played well every single game and as a coach that’s all you want, is guys who play hard and play well as often as possible. In terms of the seniors, I just told our whole team that these guys are what we want UAB soccer players to be. They’re great people, they’re great students, they give their heart and soul every single day at practice, and they’re a group that we’re going to miss for sure.”