It ended in tie, but the Tulsa men's soccer team claimed the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship over USF on penalty kicks, 6-5, on Sunday afternoon at the Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. The Golden Hurricane moved to 11-5-3 and claimed the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Bulls moved to 10-7-3 overall.
“Certainly proud of the guys,” coach Tom McIntosh said. “They've been through a lot of adversity since losing last year in the conference championship, so I have to give credit to our senior leadership. They have been tremendous at keeping this team together and we've grinded it out all year, including today. We are a team that can win a number of different ways and tonight we had to go to PKs.
“We are excited about going back to the NCAAs and having a chance to compete for another trophy, which is our goal. It is great to not have to wait and see if we are in the tournament, only to see who we'll play and where. Now we can rest up, enjoy the championship today, and then tomorrow start the process of getting ready for the NCAAs.”
The first five attempts in the shootout for each team went into the back of the net, including penalty kicks from Akeil Barrett, Geoffrey Dee, Tony Rocha, Ray Saari and Zack Stavrou for Tulsa, and Lucas Baldin, Gabriel Pfeffer, Edwin Moalosi, Marcus Epps and Gerardo Hernandez for USF.
After the first five players each team is given one shot, and after each pair of attempts if one team has an advantage, they win the shootout. Abé Matamoros scored for TU, but Jake McGuire came up with a big save on Eduardo Maceira's attempt and Tulsa claimed the title.
The full 110 minutes ticked off the clock scoreless, even though there were a combined 14 shots on goal, to force the game into the shootout.
Barrett had a team-best five shots, while Rocha added four attempts, Cameron Drackett had two and Aymar Sigue tallied one shot. McGuire logged all 110 minutes between the posts and picked up eight saves for his sixth shutout on the season.
USF had a 15-12 lead in shots, while TU had an 11-5 advantage in corner kicks.
For their efforts in the tournament, Matamoros and McGuire were selected as the Most Outstanding Offensive and Defensive Players, respectively, while Bradley Bourgeois, Quinn Starker, Rocha, Matamoros and McGuire were all tabbed to the All-Tournament Team.
The NCAA Tournament bracket will be announced at 12 noon Central on NCAA.com.
Tulsa returns to the NCAA Tournament after missing it last year. The Hurricane has an 8-8-1 mark in the tournament, making quarterfinal appearances in 2004 and 2009. TU's last appearance came in 2012, when Tulsa defeated USF (1-0) in overtime after receiving a bye in the first round, and then fell to San Diego (2-1) in the third round.