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December 12, 2017

Men's Soccer Suffers Final Four Loss in Penalties

After a record-breaking season and a hard-fought route to the Final Four, the men’s soccer team finally fell in dramatic fashion to No. 4 North Park University in sudden-death penalty kicks, 7–6. Despite their overall dominance throughout the game, the Maroons failed to capitalize on their opportunities throughout regulation or overtime and came out on the unlucky end of the shootout. 

In the first half, the Maroons dominated possession, outshooting the Vikings 8–0 with four shots on goal. Third-year Max Lopez, second-year Sam Drablos and second-year Dayo Adeosun all had solid chances but couldn’t quite finish them. North Park was simply weathering the storm.

In the second half, the Vikings finally had their first shot, but it went wide. The shot did not affect the Maroon’s momentum, and they continued their dominance of possession. Chicago earned four corner kicks in two and a half minutes, but none resulted in a goal. Third-year Matthew Koh almost scored, but the North Park goalie saved it. In the 76th minute, fourth-year goalkeeper Hill Bonin made his first save of the game, diving to deny the Vikings a game winner. First-year Carter Romero almost won the game for the Maroons, but he was judged as offside, and thus the goal didn’t count. Regulation ended as a 0–0 tie, so the teams headed into overtime.

After shooting 18–2 compared to North Park in regulation, it must’ve seemed as though the Maroons would eventually find the goal. However, the first overtime belonged to the Vikings, who forced Bonin to make a save and just barely missed a header over the goal. Chicago had another corner kick but, yet again, nothing came of it. In the second overtime period, Adeosun had three more good opportunities but unfortunately could not capitalize on any. The game then headed into penalty kicks.

For PKs, the Maroons brought first-year Aaron Katsimpalis, who had been so effective in PKs against Emory, into the goal. He made one save, and four Maroons scored in their kicks, meaning the teams were tied after penalty kicks resulting in sudden death, where finally North Park came out on top in the seventh round when they scored and a Maroon failed to do so in response. After such a ridiculously close game, it is a shame that someone had to come out as the loser. 

The Maroons end their season at 19–2–2, a new school record, along with setting new records for goals and assists. Reflecting on the season, fourth-year Andre Abedian had nothing but positive takeaways from his final season. “This season was incredible from a team and personal standpoint. We accomplished what we set out to accomplish in winning a conference championship and having a great record despite having the toughest strength of schedule in the country. The final four obviously didn’t turn out exactly as we had hoped in terms of the end result but I don’t have any regrets with how played because we completely dominated the game and were one missed offside call from going to the national championship. I hope the legacy we’ve left here is that UChicago soccer is a true national contender now, and I fully expect the team to be back in the championship next year.”

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