By Matt Esnor, New Mexico Sports Information
Albuquerque, N.M. --- Brian Kluzara took a pass from Conor Henry and roofed a shot past Eric Shannon, sending the No. 3 seeded Air Force Falcons in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship match on Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 double overtime win over No. 2 CSU Bakersfield.
The Roadrunners, 9-5-5 overall and sitting at 51 in the latest RPI rankings, will now have to sweat out selection Monday to see if they get a spot in the NCAA College Cup. Air Force is now just a win away.
CSUB got on the board first when MPSF Player of the Year Gyasi Zardes took a centering pass from David Velasquez and tapped in a shot into a yawning net for a 1-0 lead at the 38:44 mark.
The Roadrunners went a man down when Lucas Dall’Orso was shown a straight red at the 68:40 mark after a hard tackle from behind. Up a man, Air Force quickly made the Roadrunners pay. Scott McGilliray sent a pass from the left side to Patrick Compton, who drilled a shot from 25-yards out that keeper Eric Shannon lost sight of, never moving as the shot went into the right side of the net for a 1-1 tie.
Air Force’s man advantage was short lived as Trevor Wade was shown a straight red less than four minutes after the tying goal, forcing both teams to pay 10-aside for the remainder of the match.
Both teams had opportunities, but keepers Shannon and Air Force’s Matt Underwood both was stellar, keeping it tied. Then, just like that it was over.
Conor Henry, taking advantage of a little more room to work with the pitch minus two players, played a perfect through ball into the left side of the box. Klazura ran onto it and roofed one just under the cross bar that Shannon was helpless to defend. Klazura, who notched his first game-winning goal of the season, leapt over the boards before getting mobbed by his teammates.
The Falcons improved to 10-8-3, and will face either Denver or New Mexico, guaranteeing an all Mountain Division final on Sunday. Air Force defeated New Mexico twice during the regular season, 1-0 in overtime and 2-1 in Denver, and the Falcons split with Denver, winning at home 1-0 and losing in Denver 3-2. Air Force has to win on Sunday to advance to the NCAA College Cup.