Championship Bracket | Photo Gallery | Championship Page
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Helge Pietschmann scored in the 109th minute to lift North Florida into its third-straight Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer Championship Final. The Ospreys defeated Lipscomb 2-1 and will host USC Upstate in next Saturday's Championship Final.
Pietschmann stepped up for a penalty kick in the 109th minute, after Drew Spragg was fouled in the box by a Lipscomb defender. Pietschmann's shot was saved by a diving Micah Bledsoe, but the rebound fell kindly for the senior attacker and he headed the ball into the empty net.
The match was a physical one as both teams combined for 38 total fouls and several cards, including two red cards. Lipscomb's Mathias Gmeiner was sent off for two bookable offenses in the 70th minute, but the Ospreys man advantage didn't last long as Simen Solstad received a straight red for a foul in the 74th minute. Neither team could muster any chances in the final minutes of regulation, while the Ospreys held a 18-10 shot advantage for the night.
Lispcomb looked dangerous on the counter attack in the closing stages of regulation and Kyle Nasta had to make a critical save off Matt Kerridge's shot in the 84th minute to preserve the 1-1 score and send the match to overtime.
In the first half, Lipscomb took the lead as Jonathan Ramirez scored in the 19th minute after an assist from Second Team All-Conference selection Matt Kerridge. The Bisons overloaded the box and Kerridge slid the ball over to Ramirez who buried his shot into the corner. The match was picked up intensity after the score as both teams settled into the match.
North Florida started to apply more pressure after 25 minutes and were rewarded after the introduction of Jay Bolt, the First Team All-Conference performer. Bolt intercepted a pass near the midfield line and found Alex Morrell on the right side. Morrell then dribbled into the middle and ripped his shot low into the corner to pull the Ospreys even at 1-1 to close out the first half.
The Ospreys will now host USC Upstate next Saturday for the A-Sun Championship Final. It's the first time that UNF will host the final, after being on the road in the last two championship appearances. The match can be seen live on ESPN3 with kick off at 7 p.m.
North Florida vs. Lipscomb Championship Notes
- North Florida becomes the first team since UCF in 2002-04 to appear in the three-straight A-Sun Men's Soccer Championship Finals. The Ospreys are looking for their first postseason title.
- Helge Pietschmann scored his fifth goal of the season on the header after his penalty kick miss. He scored six last season for the Ospreys.
- In the last two A-Sun Championships, the Ospreys have ended Lipscomb's season by a combined score of 5-1. North Florida has now won three-straight matches over Lipscomb overall in the series.
- The Ospreys defeated USC Upstate 2-0 on the final day of the regular season and have now won four of the last five matches.
- For the sixth time this season, Lipscomb's goalie Micah Bledsoe made five or more saves in a match.