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Cougars fall by shootout

The end of the 2009 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference tournament men's soccer final was filled with heartbreak over missed chances for the University of Minnesota, Morris.

but when that washes over, the Cougars will have plenty to remember about season filled with success.

On Cougar Soccer Field Saturday afternoon, the College of St. Scholastica came away with an 8-7 shootout win, stealing away UMM's chance for a regular season and tournament championship sweep.

The Cougars and Saints had split games during the regular season and most expected this to be an even match. Statistically, the Cougars had 14 shots to the Saints' 12. The teams were nearly even in saves, fouls and corner kicks as well.

It was a physical match, but the officials played a strong hand in keeping the game under control. The referee handed out four yellow cards and a red to Scholastica and three yellows to UMM.

For the first 75 minutes, the Cougars and Saints raced up and down the field with attacks and counter-attacks, but neither team was able to create high percentage scoring opportunities. Scholastica's best chance to score in the second half was on a mishit clearing shot from UMM's Matt Johnson that goalkeeper Tyler Weber grabbed out of the air.

The frenetic pace eventually slowed and the last 15 minutes and two overtimes ran like the 15th round in a heavyweight boxing match, each team trying to muster up one last rally but not having enough energy to outrun the other.

After the second overtime, the teams settled in for alternating penalty kicks. A Scholastica miss on the second attempt, opened the door for the Cougars, but they could not capitalize. The Saints later missed their seventh kick, but again, UMM could not find the net in their turn. Eventually, Scholastica goalkeeper Sam Reed came up with a stop to seal the shootout at 8-7.

The game is officially recorded as a tie, but with the advantage to Scholastica for the shootout win. The Cougars' record now stands at 16-4-1.

The tie damages UMM's chances for an at-large NCAA post-season bid, but they are still nursing a small hope that the selection committee will recognize their accomplishments this season, which include 12 shutouts, including seven in a row against conference opponents, and a 65-10 goal advantage through the season.