Cougars Men’s Soccer wins Region Championship, advances to National Tournament

The ICC Men’s Soccer team celebrates their Region Championship. The Cougars won on penalty kicks, 7-6, to advance to Nationals. PHOTO / DANE PARKHURST

Dane Parkhurst – ICC Harbinger

East Peoria, IL – It was the coldest day of the season Saturday at the CougarPlex for the Region Championship game between the Illinois Central College Cougars and rival Parkland Cobras. Many bundled up fans were in attendance in hopes of an ICC win.

The Cougars came into the match with an 11-7 record, winning their previous match against Lincoln College in an overtime shootout.

The match got off to a fast paced start, as both teams were playing a tight-knit and focused game. Neither team could generate a scoring opportunity through the first ten minutes, though. The Cougars controlled the ball for a majority of the first half.

It wasn’t until 5 minutes were left to play in the first half that Parkland put their first shot on goal, which was denied by a diving block from ICC Goalkeeper Bojan Bobinac.

The first half provided more penalties than scoring opportunities by a long shot, as both teams were not letting up defensively.

The score was 0-0 going into the second half. This half told a similar story than the first, with each team keeping a strong defense.

In the 80th minute the Cougars Sophomore Tacuma Sadlow moved in close to the goal and took a shot from ten feet out, which missed the net by inches. This was followed seconds later by another close chance from ICC, but the ball was cleared by the Cobras defense.

The cleared ball met the foot of a Parkland forward, who made a made a drive to the net and put a shot on goal, but did not score. This series of plays provided the most action of the match.

The buzzer sounded for the end of the second half with the score still even at 0-0. This meant a ten minute overtime was to follow.

Both teams did not appear fatigued during the overtime play, and the amount of hustle seemed to remain consistent. The first overtime did not see any scoring, which lead to another ten minutes of play.

After 110 minutes of neither team netting a goal, another penalty kick shootout was in store for the Cougars.

Each team scored on their first five shots. In this case, the referee flips a coin and for the team’s captains to choose which team shoots next. Parkland won the flip and elected ICC to go first. ICC scored on their first chance, in which Parkland returned with a score. Next up was Cougars Midfielder Gabriel Srpak who put one past the Cobras Goalkeeper. Parkland Freshman Gowlett was the next shooter. Gowlett aimed his shot in the upper right corner of the net, which was stopped by Bojan Bobinac with a spectacular dive.

The Cougars would end up with the penalty kick advantage and the match, 0-0 (7-6 on PKs). The Cougars celebrated, as they won the 2017 Region 24 Championship. After the game ICC coach Oz Bakirdan received the Region 24 Coach of The Year honors.

Sophomore Midfielder David Galic was awarded Player of The Year out of Region 24. After the postgame celebration Galic expressed his gratitude for his team and the rival Cobras.

“It is a really amazing feeling, I am proud of my team. We won the PK’s and our goalkeeper made the save in a crucial moment,” said Galik. “We played really well, and Parkland also played really well. The game was really cold. I just want to say congratulations to Parkland.”

The Cougars now advance to the National Tournament in Prescott, Arizona. Which starts on November 12th.

Harbinger Sports Twitter: @ICCSportsLive

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