Boiling Springs, N.C. -
Gardner-Webb redshirt-junior goalkeeper Scott Krotee was huge in goal for the
Runnin' Bulldogs on Friday night, as he recorded seven saves and had a key stop
in the penalty kick shootout to help guide No. 2 GWU past the No. 6 seeded High
Point Panthers, 4-3 in the penalty kick shootout, sending the host team to the
2011 Big South Men's Soccer Championship match on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at
Greene-Harbison Field in Boiling Springs, N.C.
credit to the guys on the other side of the field," commented head coach Tony Setzer. "We were fortunate enough
to hang on tonight against a great effort from High Point. I'm proud of our
guys for achieving the victory in getting past such a class opponent, and we
are looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd on Sunday."
Despite being outshot 22-5 for the match, the
Runnin' Bulldogs made their shot attempts when it matter the most, advancing
past the Panthers 4-3 in a penalty kick shootout.
The early goings of the contest mirrored the chilly conditions
inside Greene-Harbison Stadium, as both teams worked to warm up offensively
throughout the first half. The Panthers uncorked the first shots of the game,
as a shot by Second Team All-Conference forward Karo Okiomah took a shot in the
third minute that was saved by Krotee.
Less than two minutes later, Alex Martinez also got a shot off for
High Point early in the first half, as his attempt in the fifth minute sailed
High Point put pressure on the GWU defense early, but the Runnin'
Bulldog defensive line led by First Team All-Big South defender Jon Ole Reinhardsen kept the Panthers and Karo Okiomah from cashing in early.
High Point's Karo Okiomah got another good look at the goal on a
breakaway attempt, outpacing the GWU defense to gain a scoring opportunity
20-yards out on the left side of the goal, only to have his attempt stopped by
Krotee, who grabbed three total saves for the Runnin' Bulldogs in the first
Gardner-Webb needed a team save in the 41st minute after a corner
kick found its way to Panther forward Mamadee Nyepon, who put a shot on frame
that was deflected by well-placed Runnin' Bulldog defenders to prevent High
Point from jumping out to a lead. GWU was unable to get a shot off in the
waning minutes of the first half, as the Panthers finished with an 8-0
advantage in shots attempted in the opening 45 minutes of play.
Physical play picked up during the second period of play, as the
teams fought to secure the coveted remaining spot in the Big South Championship
match on Sunday.
GWU's Krotee stepped up to record key second half saves in order
to keep the Runnin' Bulldogs in the game. Krotee, who finished the second half
with four saves, giving him seven total for the match, and the GWU defense held
a relentless Panther offensive attack. Shots in the 53rd and 65th minutes by Shane
Malcolm and Martinez were both halted by Krotee.
With the defense refusing to break, the Runnin' Bulldog offense
got its first shot attempt in the 54th minute from midfielder John Sargent,
whose shot went wide to the left of the goal. Senior midfielder Richie Wall cut
through the defense in the 64th minute to give the Runnin' Bulldogs a scoring
chance, but his shot was saved by Panther goalkeeper Michael Chesler.
As the temperature dropped, the physical play increased, as the
two teams' combined for 12 second half fouls and 25 overall for the match.
The GWU defense, led by Krotee, Reinhardsen, Jovan Ivanovich, and
freshmen Eric Yeager and Matt Bogart kept the match scoreless to force
overtime, as the Panthers kept attacking thanks to great runs by Karo Okiomah,
whose seven shots and four shots on goal both were game highs.
GWU turned up the pressure itself on the offensive end as a shot
fired by Sargent in the 99th minute threatened to break the scoreless tie, but
Chesler blocked it to force a second overtime period.
In the second overtime period, GWU freshman Denzel Clarke found
some open ground in High Point's defensive backfield, but his shot attempt went
wide. Karo Okiomah found room in the 104th minute in the GWU defensive third,
but the defense was able to close quickly and his shot was blocked. Both
defenses held their ground late to force a penalty kick shootout.
During the shootout, GWU goalkeeper Krotee was able to block the
first Panther attempt, which seemed to deflate the High Point moral and sway
the momentum in favor of the Runnin' Bulldogs.
After GWU made good on their first attempt by Second-Team
All-Conference selection Chris Davis, High Point's second attempt sailed wide, putting
the Panthers in a hole at 1-0.
Gardner-Webb's second attempt for the hit the crossbar and missed,
while High Point's Shawn Sloan tied the shootout up at 1-1, converting the
Panthers third attempt.
GWU's Sargent connected for to give the Runnin' Bulldogs the 3-2
advantage entering the final two attempts.
The Panthers' defensive specialist Fejiro Okiomah continued a
strong night by connecting on his shot attempt, forcing one final shot for
Gardner-Webb with a Big South Championship berth on the line. Gardner-Webb's Ivanovich
stepped in and put his attempt into the back of the net to help the Runnin'
Bulldogs advance 4-3.
The No. 2 Runnin' Bulldogs (9-7-4) move on to face No. 4 Liberty
in the Conference tournament championship match, scheduled to play Sunday at 2 pm.
GWU defeated the Flames 3-1 at Greene-Harbison Field during the regular season
back on October 8th.