Simon Fraser edges Grand Canyon 2-1 in NCAA II Men's Soccer West Region Championship

Saeed Robinson Courtesy of Grand Canyon Sports Information

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The seventh-ranked Grand Canyon University men’s soccer team fell to second-ranked Simon Fraser by the score of 2-1 in the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer West Region Championship on Thursday night, Nov. 15, on the GCU Soccer Field in Pheonix, Ariz.

The Antelopes finish the 2012 season with a 15-3-2 overall record, while The Clan improves to 18-1-1 and will play Incarnate Word on Nov. 17 in Phoenix for the opportunity to advance to the final four.

“I thought they were the better team in the first half,” Head Coach Petar Draksin said. “When it came to halftime, we tried some new things and I think we were the better team in the second half. Unfortunately, in this game, sometimes things don’t work in your favor.”

GCU narrowly outshot SFU 14-13, but The Clan placed six shots on goal compared to four for the ‘Lopes.

GCU found itself on the defensive in the first half when the Antelopes were outshot 9-2. Neither team was able to find the back of the net until Matt Besuschko broke the scoreless tie on an assist from the right corner in the 41st minute.

GCU Goalkeeper Joshua Zehring made three great saves in the first 45 minutes as The Clan had four total shots on goal and finished with four saves on the night.

“Josh stepped up and got the job done this season and he is the reason we are here,” Draksin said. “He made some incredible saves and is a huge part of how we won the conference championship. Josh sacrificed a lot for us this program.”

“I put a lot of time in this summer and it paid off,” Zehring said. “Right now it is hard, but I will get back after it and remember this feeling.”

Saeed Robinson scored the equalizer on a penalty kick in the 65th minute after being fouled inside the box. GCU then carried the offensive momentum for the next 20 minutes before Carlo Basso scored the game-winner for SFU in the 85th minute.

The ‘Lopes would take two more shots before the final buzzer rang, putting an end to their outstanding season.

“In his two years here, Saeed kept our program alive,” Draksin said. “We are going to miss him, he is a special player. We have to recover and find another Saeed because he is a great young man and soccer player.”

I can’t say enough about our young men, they had an outstanding year,” Draksin added. “I totally believe that whoever won this game would win the national championship and I still believe that. The guys played their hearts for us this entire season.”

Simon Fraser will play Incarnate Word on Saturday on the GCU Soccer Field at 7 p.m. as part of the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Elite Eight. Incarnate Word, the third seed in the South Central Region, defeated top-seeded and third-ranked Regis 1-0 in the first game on Thursday.

The winner will then travel to Evans, Ga., for the semi-finals and National Championship, scheduled for Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, respectively.