Defense and stellar goalkeeping is what occurred through 110 minutes of play, as Utah Valley men’s soccer and the Air Force Academy needed penalty kicks to decide the match Friday night, Nov. 15. UVU and AFA both went 4-for-5 through their first five kicks. But, six would be the magic number as the Wolverines grabbed a save and put their sixth kick through to send them to the WAC championship match.
The Falcons and Wolverines met in the regular season finale on Nov. 9, in Orem. In that match neither team found the back of the net until the second half when AFA struck first. The Wolverines then scored four unanswered to win 4-1.
Through their last two games, the Wolverines have scored a combined seven goals. So, offense in this match shouldn’t have been hard to come by, right? Wrong. On the evening both teams had plenty of great chances, but stout defensive play is what stood out for both UVU and AFA.
A major key in this match was the absence of WAC Offensive Player of the Year, senior forward Blake Frischknecht. He was ruled out of this one with a lower body injury suffered in the second half of Wednesday’s quarterfinal match.
After two scoreless frames the match headed for overtime. One overtime wasn’t enough, as both sides continued to battle it out into double-overtime. The match finally headed to penalty kicks after two more scoreless frames.
Perhaps the biggest play of the evening came in the second overtime period when UVU senior goalkeeper Mitch Jensen came up with a huge save. AFA took a free kick from near midfield and sailed it into the box where they were able to get a head on it, when Jensen tracked it and punched it away just in the nick of time.
In the overtime periods, both the Falcons and Wolverines ripped off plenty of great looks — UVU was able to get off six shots, while AFA had seven.
In penalty kicks, it came down to who was going to miss first after five shots each. Jensen came up with another huge save to give UVU a chance to win the match with just one more goal. The goal-scoring hero ended up being sophomore forward Zahir Vazquez.
With the draw and advancement on penalty kicks, UVU remains undefeated all-time against AFA at 3-0-2.
The Wolverines will now prepare for the WAC championship match on Sunday, Nov. 17, against first seeded and No. 21-ranked Seattle University. The match will begin at 1 p.m. MST. SU defeated UVU 2-1 in overtime in Seattle earlier this season.