Central Methodist captures NAIA soccer title
IRVINE, Calif - Central Methodist soccer won the NAIA national championship in penalty kicks Saturday over Missouri Valley to capture the programs first national team title in any sport.
Both teams were tied at three in penalty kicks, but two saves by junior goalkeeper Vince Gelei and a strike in the final round from freshman Alberto Pangrazzi clinched the championship.
The matchup marked the third meeting this season between the Vikings and the Eagles. The first resulted in a scoreless draw before Missouri Valley captured the conference tournament championship with a 2-1 victory.
Missouri Valley struck first in the 18th minute when, off a corner kick, a Gianmarco Donnini header found the back of the net.
Central Methodist countered in the 40th minute with a Rodrigo Paredes header off of a set play and assist from freshman Marcos German to tie the match at one.
Just over a minute into the second half, German snuck a lefty shot past the far right post to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead. It was his third goal of the season, all coming in the national tournament.
Later, Ruben Jimenez tied the game up for Missouri Valley when a free kick from midfield bounced off a Central Methodist defender's head toward the net before Jimenez finished it off.
The game remained scoreless through the rest of regulation and two overtime periods before CMU escaped 4-3 in penalties.
The Eagles finished 22-2-2, a program-record for wins, earning the first conference championship in program history and the first national tournament appearance in program history.