OLATHE, Kan. - Two of the top teams in the NAIA went head to head for 110 minutes before settling for a share of the spoils as 8th-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and No. 14-ranked Benedictine played to a 1-1 tie, Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field in the NAIA Men's Soccer Game of the Week.
The deadlock allowed the Ravens to remain ahead of the Pioneers in the league standings heading into the HAAC Tournament, which will begin next Saturday, September 3. The top six teams in the standings qualify for the tournament with the top two teams receiving a first round bye.
The first 45 minutes saw both teams look dangerous in the offensive third, an observation that was reflected by each team putting a goal into the net. Benedictine (11-2-3, 5-1-1 HAAC) opened the scoring at 17:59 as Joe Sbarro tallied his league-leading 16th goal of the campaign. Gui Gomes fired a cross from the left flank and just outside the area, leading Sbarro into a header that he placed into the left side of the net.
MNU (11-1-6, 4-1-2) tallied its goal on a header as well just under 20 minutes later. Matias Fernandez stepped up to a corner kick from the right side and picked out Alvaro Beltran, who rose above the crowd and smashed a shot over the head of Taylor Vinnage from 10 yards away for his second goal of the season.
The second half was played almost entirely in the Ravens' half of the field as the Pioneers enjoyed the majority of the possession. MNU enjoyed a 13-7 edge in shots through regulation with seven of the shots coming in the second half.
Both teams had excellent chances to net an overtime winner, but neither was able to break the stalemate. Jacob Fischer had a shot just 19 seconds into overtime that went over the MNU goal while both Aurelien Norest and Trent Remmich forced Vinnage into saves in the second extra stanza.
Vinnage finished with five saves while Chris Eriksson had four stops for the Pioneers. The sixth tie of the season for the Pioneers is the most by any team in the NAIA, one more than Columbia (Mo.).
Ravens, Pioneers Battle to 1-1 Tie
NAIA Men's Soccer Game of the Week