The dreams of a national championship came to an end for the LIU-Post (C.W. Post) men’s soccer team in West Virginia on Saturday.
For the second year in a row, the Pioneers fell one game short of an NCAA-Division II Final Four appearance, losing 2-1 to the University of Charleston on Charleston’s home field.
The Pioneers (15-3-3), ranked 12th in the country, let up two goals in the first 23 minutes of the game, but cut the deficit to 2-1 when Tom Bowen scored on a free kick in the 42nd minute.
With one minute left in the game, Pioneer freshman forward Charlie Ledula put a free kick right on target, but Charleston goalie Fabian Veit dove to make a save, preserving the lead.
Post got to the Elite Eight this season with a thrilling win over top seed Southern New Hampshire in penalty kicks on Thursday. Post prevailed, 5-4, in penalty kicks after the team’s played to a scoreless tie. It was the second year Post beat SNH in penalty kicks to get to the elite eight.
The Pioneers enjoyed their fifth straight season with at least 15 wins, won the East Coast Conference Championship, and were the NCAA Division II East Region champs for the second year in a row.
The game marked the end of Southampton native Matias Ruiz’s career. Ruiz, a 2011 graduate of Southampton High School, was Post’s starting center midfielder for the last two years, earning All-ECC Second-Team honors last season. This season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 19 games, earned All-ECC honors, and is nominated for All-Region and All-American.
– CAILIN RILEY