AUM Men's Soccer headed to Final 4 in NAIA National Championship - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

AUM Men's Soccer headed to Final 4 in NAIA National Championship

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MONTGOMERY, AL -

Information provided by the AUM Athletics Dept.

Senior Cesar Kestring netted a golden goal with four minutes remaining in double overtime to lead the No. 11-seed Auburn Montgomery men's soccer team to a 3-2 victory over No. 3-seed Oklahoma Wesleyan Wednesday at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex.

With the win, the Warhawks (14-6-2) advanced to the NAIA National Championship Final Four for the first time since 2007. AUM will challenge No. 2-seed Lindsey Wilson in the semifinals on Friday, Dec. 6, at 2:30 p.m. The winner of the match will move on to the national championship match on Saturday. Oklahoma Wesleyan ends its season with a 19-4 record.

"I think it was evident from the beginning of the match that they had a day off and we did not," head coach Wulf Koch said. "We started the game out very sluggish and made a silly mistake in the midfield that led to their first goal only a couple minutes into the match. It took us a while to get out legs, but we were able to fight back. We got the equalizer, but again gave up a late goal that was not necessary. We went into overtime and were able to finish it on a lucky bounce."

On the game-winning goal, sophomore defender Niklas Hunold launched a free kick high into the air toward the scoring box for the Warhawks. The Eagles' goalkeeper Luka Stojanovic went to grab the ball down, but could not secure it, allowing Kestring to secure the deflected ball and send in the deciding goal.

"Niklas booted the ball high off the free kick and I just made sure to follow it," Kestring said of the goal. "I saw the keeper drop it and just tapped it in. Now we have an opportunity to play in the semifinals and keep working toward our goal."

The Warhawks fell behind early in the contest, as Jack McGowan scored off a pass from Lucas Almeida just 1:56 into the match.

AUM rallied and tied the score in the 25th minute, when junior Elvar Sigurdsson connected on a cross by sophomore Yannic Fallack.

The Warhawks gained an advantage at the 54:32 mark of the match when Oklahoma Wesleyan's Roberto Gallegos was issued a red card, giving AUM a one-man advantage. However, the Eagles seemingly also caught a break when AUM senior Vignir Johannesson left the game with an injury 2:08 later.

Sigurdsson gave the Warhawks a 2-1 lead at the 72:30 mark of the contest, this time teaming with senior Vitor Silva. In the two final-site matches for AUM, Sigurdsson has scored two goals and assisted on two others, while also converting the deciding penalty kick in Tuesday's shootout.

Freshman Phillip Hitpass came on to replace the NAIA First-Team All-American Johannesson and tallied a key save late in the match as Oklahoma Wesleyan was working to find the equalizer.

McGowan tallied a game-tying goal with 3:50 remaining in regulation, as he connected with Shaddrick Kaphuka to knot the score at 2-2.

In the opening overtime period, AUM's Alan Harwell had a shot blocked at close range, while McGowan had an attempt blocked and another go wide.

After a scoreless first overtime, Kestring connected on the only shot of double overtime, sending the Warhawks to the semifinals.

In the match, AUM outshot Oklahoma Wesleyan 22-16, while the Eagles held an 8-5 advantage in shots on goal. Sigurdsson attempted a team-high seven shots for the Warhawks, while McGowan had a game-best 11 attempts.

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