Photo taken by SLIAC Director of Athletic Communications, Brian Lovellette
ST. LOUIS, Mo.-- The No. 1-seeded Fontbonne University men's soccer team saw its 2017 season come to a close in tough fashion in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Semifinals as the Griffins fell to No. 4-seeded Westminster, 1-0.
"Soccer is a crazy game sometimes and it comes down to one play," said head coach Donnie Alberty. "You have to give credit to Westminster, because they made the play and we didn't. But I can't help but feel proud of my guys for how they kept pushing forward and battled to the end."
Alberty continued, "When we look back we will realize that we had a special season and were a very talented side. Thank you to the entire Fontbonne community for all of the support and we will look forward to coming back even better next season."
It was a wild game to say the least between FBU and Westminster. The two squads combined for 30 fouls and nine yellow cards, while battling the cold and some wet conditions on the turf.
The Griffins (13-5-1; 8-1 SLIAC), tied the Blue Jays with 16 shots on the night. Blake Smugala led with four, while Nick Wolf, Corey Schmidt and David Keeven added three. In goal, Tony Pitaro came away with five saves.
Westminster, meanwhile, got the lone goal off the foot of Justin Gerdiman and he also led the team with five shots. In net, Connor Bandre made a couple key saves to finish with six on the evening.
In the first half and throughout the entire 90:00 minutes of play, Fontbonne controlled the pace of the game and dominated the possession battle.
The team peppered Bandre in the first seven minutes but were unable to get on the board early. Then, in the 17th minute, the Blue Jays struck first.
Brandon Rettke dribbled down the right side of the field and he crossed the ball into the box. Austin Chandler was there and he deflected the ball onto the foot of Gerdiman who buried his shot in to make it 1-0.
FBU countered with two shots in the next two minutes but Smugala nor Keeven could net the equalizer. Fontbonne had a great scoring chance at 29:50 as Schmidt received the ball inside the box but his shot went just outside the left post.
Westminster went on to outshoot the Griffins 3-2 and they were able to head into the break on top, 1-0.
In the second frame, Fontbonne really picked up the pace and kept the ball on the Blue Jays side of the field for the majority of the 45:00 minutes. In the 62nd minute, FBU had a chance for goal but Charles Gibbs' shot went wide right.
As the clock continued to tick away, FBU's pressure amped up. Wolf had a chance to score in the 74th minute off a header but Bandre came away with the save.
In the 85th minute, Wolf got the ball in the box but his tipped shot went just over the crossbar. The team had one final push in the 88th minute, however, Smugala's header was stopped by Bandre. That'd be the final attempt on the night as the Blue Jays came away with the 1-0 win.
Fontbonne closes out its season 13-5-1 and 8-1 in the SLIAC. The team won the SLIAC Regular Season Championship for the first time since 2013 and outright since 2008. The 13 wins are also its highest since 2013.
Fans make sure to stay updated on fontbonnegriffins.com throughout the year for full updates on the men's soccer team.