Falcons Advance to MPSF Title Game on Klazura's Golden Goal
Nov. 9, 2012
Brian Klazura scored a golden goal 2:20 into the second overtime period Friday to lift No. 3-seed Air Force past No. 2-seed CSU Bakersfield 2-1 in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Men's Soccer Tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. Klazura's goal, his third of the season, puts the Falcons into the MPSF championship game for the first time ever and just their second conference final in program history.
Air Force, which avenged a 1-0 loss to CSU Bakersfield in last year's semifinal, improved to 10-8-3 while the Roadrunners fell to 9-5-5.
"I could not be more proud of our guys," said Air Force head coach Doug Hill. "We had high energy all game and that is tough to do after playing just 24 hours earlier. Our fitness level showed in the second half and we stuck to our game plan."
Klazura roofed a 10-yard shot from the left wing past CSUB keeper Joe Shannon after taking a beautiful through pass from senior Conor Henry. Bedlam ensued from the Air Force sidelines as the Falcons are one victory away from their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1997. The last time Air Force played in a conference title game was 1996 in the inaugural Western Athletic Conference Tournament, losing to Fresno State 2-1.
Both teams played a man down for a good portion of the second half and all 12 minutes of overtime. CSUB's Lucas Dall'Orso received a red card in the 69th minute, then Air Force's Trevor Wade was sent off in the 79th minute. The Falcons took advantage during the 10-minute stretch with a man up as senior Patrick Compton tied the score at 1-all in the 73rd minute with a rocket from 25 yards out that eluded Shannon. Senior Kevin Durr got the assist on the play, his team-high fifth of the season.
MPSF Player of the Year Gyasi Zardes put the Roadrunners up 1-0 in the 39th minute when he took a centering pass from David Velasquez and tapped in a shot past Falcon goalie Matt Underwood. Underwood was stellar the rest of the way, making five saves for the game, compared to four for Shannon.
CSUB outshot the Falcons 17-16 in total shots and the shots on goal were even at six apiece. Zardes had a game-high six shots, followed by teammate Christian Duarte with five. Durr led the Falcons with four shots and McGillivray had three.
"Our senior leadership really stood out today," said Hill. "Kevin (Durr) and Jake Jones each had an excellent game against a very good offensive team."
The Falcons will take on top-seeded New Mexico in the title game on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.