The Eastern Oregon University men’s soccer team is starting to get used to winning shootouts.

This one sent the team to nationals for the first time.

The Mountaineers tied their opponent in the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament in Springfield for the second day in a row, this time battling to a 2-2 draw against Southern Oregon in Wednesday’s semifinals, then turned a perfect effort in the penalty kick round to win it, 5-4, and reach today’s championship match against top seed Corban.

All five players who took the penalty kicks for EOU — Javier Moran, Joaquin Bermejillo, Jack Rose, Elvis Pavon and Erik Mattice — were true on their attempts, with the final tally from Mattice serving as the winner.

The win also means an automatic NAIA playoff berth for the Mountaineers, the first in program history, regardless of the outcome today. A win by EOU would give it the tournament title and the berth. However, by CCC rules, if the regular season champion also wins the conference tournament, the loser of the tournament title game receives an auto berth. 

Either way, the Mountaineers — who were long shots just to get to the CCC tournament a few weeks ago — have assured themselves of stretching their season into late November. They did so by winning five in a row to end the regular season, and now reaching the finals despite having both of their tournament contests go in the books officially as ties before winning the shootouts.

Eastern seemed like it would avoid a second draw in as many days. A goal in the fifth minute by Alexander Zuluaga and a score in the 40th from Patrick Larsen — who headed in a corner kick from Mattice — gave the Mountaineers a 2-0 lead at the break.

EOU had the advantage despite being outshot by the Raiders in the half, 9-5. 

The Raiders’ shot margin grew in the second half and led to them ultimately pulling even. Luis Aguilar pulled SOU to within 2-1 following a goal in the 63rd minute, and Michael Miller knotted the game with just over eight minutes to play in regulation. Max Rose, who had eight saves, stopped four shots in the second half and had an additional save in the second overtime to keep EOU in the match.

EOU reached the conference semifinals a year ago but fell short in a 1-0 loss to Rocky Mountain and saw its season end one match short of nationals.

Eastern (9-8-3) and Corban (16-0-2) meet at 11 a.m. today in Springfield. The Warriors dominated in the first matchup this season, winning 6-1.

EOU women roll into championship match

The Eastern Oregon University women’s soccer team reached the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament semifinals for the third year in a row, scoring late in the first half and then adding a pair of second-half goals to top Corban, 3-0, Wednesday in the tournament semifinals in Springfield.

The win sends EOU into the championship match today against Rocky Mountain. With top seed and regular-season champion Oregon Tech eliminated from the tournament, the winner between No. 2 EOU and

No. 3 RMC will collect the conference’s second automatic bid to nationals.

Eastern punished the Corban defense to the tune of a 9-2 shot advantage in the first half but didn’t find the scoreboard until Camie Edgington scored in the 41st minute to put the Mountaineers ahead 1-0 at the half. Eastern put six shots on goal in the period, but five were stopped by Corban keeper Elizabeth Brock.

Lindsay Balkenbush gave Eastern some breathing room early in the second half with a goal in the 58th minute, and Morgan Farrington capped off the night in the 78th minute with her 10th goal of the season. 

Savannah Hutchinson, in net for the second straight day for an injured Cydni Cottrell, recorded three saves to preserve EOU’s second shutout of the tournament and fifth in a row.

The Mountaineers (14-2-2 overall) and Rocky Mountain (13-3-2) meet at 2 p.m. today in Springfield. EOU won the first matchup on the road, 2-1, in double overtime.

East Region Sports Editor

Ronald's primary beats are Eastern Oregon University, La Grande High School and the other eight high schools of Union and Wallowa counties. As an avid sports fan, he is primarily reading about or watching sports when he isn't covering a game.

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