The Grand Canyon University men's soccer team (1-2-1) participated in extra minutes for the first time this season, playing to a 2-2 tie at Stetson University (1-1-1) tonight at the Athletic Training Complex in DeLand, Fla. The game marked the end of a four-game, 12-day trip for the Antelopes.
"Tonight was frustrating, because I felt like we could have won this game," said head coach Petar Draksin. "But that is how the game works sometimes. I thought we could have had many more goals. That being said, I'm proud of their effort and energy at the end of a long trip. We have work to do on scoring goals and getting organized defensively, because allowing five goals in the last two games, that's not supposed to happen."
For the third straight game, the 'Lopes outshot their opponent, this time by a margin of 30-12. GCU also placed 11 of their shots on goal, compared to four for Stetson.
Offensively, the 'Lopes were led by Kyle Ciliento's six shots, three of which were on goal, and Jose Rodriguez Nieblas' five shots (four on goal). Ciliento and Nieblas also accounted for GCU's scores.
"I thought this was a good trip, although the results didn't go our way," said Ciliento. "I know we are coming back disappointed with our record, but it was a long time to be on the road and we will build on this in the future. Personally, I was excited to get back on the field. Tonight was just the sixth game I've played since the 2010 season, so I'm not as sharp as I would like to be, but I'm ectastic to be playing again."
The Hatters, who are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, scored the first goal of the game on their first shot attempt, finding the back of the net after creating a one-on-one with GCU keeper Joshua Zehring in the 12th minute. The Hatters would hold that lead for the remainder of the half.
The 'Lopes held the advantage in shots in the first half (8-5), including an Alberto Sanchez Garcia attempt that hit the post in the 27th minute and a shot by Brandon Hansen that was saved by Stetson goalkeeper Andreas Schnabl.
Following a red card issued to a Stetson player in the 42nd minute, the Hatters were forced to play with only 10 players on the field for the remainder of the contest.
GCU took advantage of Stetson's numbers from the get-go in the second half, taking five shots in the first 15 minutes while allowing just one to the Hatters in the same time frame.
Nieblas collected his first goal of the season en route to equalizing the score in the 60th minute, beating Schnabl near the post. Just 21 seconds later, Ciliento recorded his team-leading third goal of the 2013 season on an assist from Ben Barkoff to hand the 'Lopes the 2-1 lead.
Although GCU was making Stetson's defense work through most of the second half, the Hatters tied the game at two off of a deflected shot in the 73rd minute on just their third attempt of the half.
The 'Lopes were on the attack for the final 10 minutes of regulation, taking six shots before time expired, but a team save by Stetson with six seconds left forced GCU into their first overtime contest of the season. It was the second overtime game for the Hatters, who defeated UMass Lowell 1-0 in one overtime on Aug. 30.
GCU took the only three shots of the first overtime, but were unable to put those attempts on target as the game entered its final 10 minutes. The 'Lopes had five more tries in the second overtime period, but Schnabl continued to be effective at the net, finishing with eight saves in the game.
The 'Lopes have just one game next week when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on Stanford on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. Fans can follow the action live by visiting www.gculopes.com.
"For having been gone for 12 days, and touching four states, the guys really played their hearts outs," added Draksin. "The character and effort was there, we just didn't score as many goals as we should have. I'm very excited to come back home, and work through some of these things. We definitely have work to do before facing a team like Stanford."
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