EVANS, GA – Following the longest PK shootout in PBC Tournament history, the Lander Bearcats claimed the 2017 men's soccer title over North Georgia at Blanchard Woods Park on Sunday. The game ended in a 1-1 tie following 90 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods, leading to the PK shootout. Both teams converted their first eight PK attempts and Thibault Chretien scored the ninth in a row for Lander. The ninth UNG attempt went off the crossbar, giving Lander the title.
Lander earns the PBC's first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats (12-3-2) had played in the PBC final the last two years and win their fifth overall championship. North Georgia sees their season come to an end with a 10-7-1 overall mark.
After a scoreless first half, Lander got on the scoreboard first in the second half. Chretien's shot at the 69:33 mark bounced off the crossbar to the feet of Jamie Lunn, who nudged it over just as UNG keeper Matt Sharman arrived.
The score remained 1-0 until North Georgia's pressure caused a Lander own goal to tie the game. The Nighthawks' Daniel Bennett fired a shot into a crowded goal box which bounced off a Lander defender into the goal.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the overtime periods. Five shots clanged off the crossbar from both teams an each had open-goal shots that sailed wide or high. Lander thought they had the game won at the end of the second overtime, but the ball crossed the line just after the final horn had sounded.
Lander outshot the Nighthawks 20-16 in the game with nine of those shots on goal. Sharman made 11 saves for the Nighthawks while Dean Cowdroy had eight saves. Both teams took nine corner kicks.
Lander will learn their NCAA Tournament schedule when the brackets are released by the national office on Monday at 6:00 pm.
2017 PBC Men's Soccer
Eoin Hyland, Flagler
Andre Simmond, USC Aiken
Mikie Rowe, Young Harris
Val Freeny, Young Harris
Jordan Knight, Clayton State
Dionysius Harman, Clayton State
Alex Grant, North Georgia
Garbriel Garcia, North Georgia
Adam Farrell, North Georgia
Ian Foulger, Lander
Thibault Chretien, Lander
Jamie Lunn, Lander
Tyler Bolton, Lander
Lander's Thibault Chretien takes a penalty kick in the ninth round of the shootout Sunday.