Lexington, Ky. – After 112 minutes of toil and intensity, a penalty kick in the second overtime by Matthew Eldridge gave Hanover a 2-1 victory over the Transylvania men's soccer team in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference semifinal match on Wednesday night at Pat Deacon Stadium.
Transylvania, the No. 2 seed entering the conference tournament, had its season likely drawn to a close by Hanover, the No. 3 seed in the semifinal matchup. The Panthers advance to Saturday's conference championship at No. 1 seed Rose-Hulman.
The result extinguished Transylvania's unbeaten record at home, making the Pioneers 7-1-2 after the Wednesday loss.
Wednesday's match was a stunner for the crowd of more than 300 on hand to witness Transylvania's bid for a ticket to the conference championship game, especially in the fashion the game turned late.
After more than 70 minutes of measured attacks by both sides, crossers gone long, and missed final touches, the Pioneers found paydirt. Freshman forward Alex Shkraba took a brilliantly-timed lob from junior midfielder Riley Calhoon for a breakaway opportunity, and after a couple shifty moves, delivered a laser to the left corner of the net to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
Anticipating similar theatrics to what the Pioneers have experienced all season long, the Pioneer faithful at Pat Deacon counted down the minutes of regulation.
But time still remained for the Panthers, and in the 86th minute, Walker Goodbub chested down a corner kick lob in the middle of the box, and rocketed it past freshman goalkeeper Drew Grisham to equalize the match at 1-1.
The match needed a first overtime, and both teams were conservative with their attack. The second overtime began in a similar tone to the first, as the Pioneers and Panthers sought valuable shots on goal.
Suddenly, the match took a turn for the worst, as Eldridge intercepted a Transylvania clearance from nearly 30 yards out. The Hanover midfielder then waded his way near the top of the box and sought contact from sophomore midfielder Tyler Joy-Brandon. As Eldridge went to ground, Joy-Brandon, the hero of the previous regular season match between Transy and Hanover, was charged with a red card, bringing his season to a close.
Eldridge lined up for the penalty kick against Grisham and plated the ball in the left bottom corner for the scintillating road victory for Hanover.
Excluded from the latest Great Lakes regional rankings, the result likely brings Transylvania's season to a sudden end at 12-3-3, their best record in four seasons.
The Pioneers finish their season as the second-best team in the HCAC regular season, and just a moment short of greater glory.
To track the Pioneers throughout their offseason, follow their official twitter @TransyMSoccer