The Simon Fraser University men's soccer team moved into uncharted waters following a quarter-final win at the NCAA Division II national championships.
The Clan, in its first official season in the NCAA, earned a berth into the final four of the Div. II nationals with a 1-0 victory over the Lone Star conference champion University of the Incarnate Word in Phoenix, Arizona last Saturday.
Defender Marco Voegeli scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute with his first goal of the season.
"We're absolutely ecstatic right now," said Clan head coach Alan Koch, in an SFU press release. "I take my hat off to Incarnate Word, they made life very difficult for us and they played some fantastic football. Our guys showed a lot of character. It wasn't our best performance tonight and the game-winner wasn't the prettiest goal, but we'll take it."
Voegeli's marker came off a crossing pass from Chris Bargholz that deflected off the defender and into the goal.
The win made NCAA history for SFU, which-became the first non-American program to earn a berth into the semifinals of a national championship tournament.
It was also just the second time that a Great Northwest Conference team has won the West Region title. In 2004, Seattle University won the regional banner and then went on to win the NCAA title at the nationals.
But having to spend more than a week on the road took a toll on the SFU team.
"We've preached dealing with adversity and we had a week of it. But we came out with flying colours," said Koch after arriving back in Burnaby on Monday.
SFU will face Midwest Region champion and No. 2-ranked Saginaw Valley State in the national semi-finals on Nov. 29.
"Saginaw Valley is hot and on a bit of a streak," Koch added. "It's always dangerous, they have a sense of belief, but we have belief (in ourselves), too."
Earlier this month, SFU won a thrilling 2-1 win over Grand Canyon University in the regional semifinals, also held in Phoenix.
Matt Besuschko got the Clan on the board first on a late first-half corner from Juan Sanchez in the 42nd minute.
Grand Canyon answered back midway through the second half on a successful penalty kick.
But with the clock in the 87th minute, Bargholz crossed the ball to Carlo Basso, who headed home his 13th goal of the season for the game-winner.
"Justin (Wallace) made a great play in our own half. He got the ball up to Chris (Bargholz), who put a beautiful ball in to me, and I didn't really have to do much, to be honest," said Basso in a release.
The Clan will have nearly two weeks to prepare for its Final Four showdown against Saginaw Valley State that takes place in Evans, Georgia from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1.
Atlantic region representative Mercyhurst will play South champion Lynn University in the other semifinal.
In the most recent National Soccer Coaches' poll, SFU was ranked second overall, while Lynn came in at the 11th spot.
Saginaw Valley was ranked 12th and Mercyhurst 14th in the coaches' poll.
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