By Zach Baker
Even though his team had advanced in dramatic fashion, Rockhurst coach Anthony Tocco sounded as though he had some regret.
The Hawks defeated Tiffin University, 8-7 in a shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in the second round of the Division II regional soccer tournament.
The game ended when Rockhurst goalkeeper Ryan Bass was able to deflect Colin Edwards' penalty kick.
Edwards fell to his knees in disappointment as Bass' Rockhurst teammates ran to him in celebration.
"Two great teams, and I hate to see it end this way for either team," Tocco said after the game. "It really is a hard, hard loss [for Tiffin]. You'd rather have it on the field."
The game was played in windy conditions, and - oddly enough - each of the contest's goals in regulation came against it.
Tiffin scored first when Karl Jones took a pass from Edison Benda and found the back of the net in 28:41.
"He's been great for us all year," said Tiffin coach Rudy Brownell. "I really wasn't surprised, because we expect that out of him."
Rockhurst responded in the second half, when John Schreiber headed in a shot from Mark Magee in the 53rd minute.
"They scored against the wind, we scored against the wind," Tocco said. "I think, with the wind, people stay too comfortable and the ball just keeps on going long, long, long. It's hard to play with the wind when you're trying to put the ball on the ground sometimes. You'd think the wind's your ally, and it becomes really your enemy sometimes.
The teams played through regulation, then two 10-minute overtimes before reaching the shootout. Each team missed once in the first five attempts, then each team missed once over the next four, before Bass stopped Edwards' attempt.
"We practiced those [penalty kicks] in the last practice," said Rockhurst assistant Giorgio Antongirolami. "Our guys were able to respond."
Tiffin coach Rudy Brownell stayed positive after the loss.
"A tough way for the season to end, but that's the nature of the game," he said. "We did everything we could have done, and I'm really proud of my team. I told the guys they did a very good job, and to lose on [penalty kicks], obviously, I have to accept it."
Tiffin finishes its season - one in which it made the Division II regionals for the first time - at 11-4-3. The Hawks improved to 16-3-3.
In goal, Bass made four saves, and came up with three game-saving stops in the shootout.
"I gotta be honest with you, I think he's one of the best goalkeepers in the country, bar none," Tocco said. "He's going for a three-time All-American. He's a phenomenal goaltender. In this game, you're only as strong defensively as your goaltender is."
Tiffin goalie Jeremy Ashley made three saves in regulation, two stops in the shootout.