The Mountaineers (4-8-6) defensively were doing just enough to keep the Phoenix side of the scoreboard lit with a zero. Senior Danny Free was unbelievable in goal for the Apps. Free made seven humungous saves in regulation to keep the Mountaineers in the lead and then in a tie to force overtime.
It was late in the second half with a little over 15 minutes to go in the 75th minute when Trey Hemphill got a great strike on the ball and put it past Elon keeper, Nathan Dean. Although being outshot by the Phoenix in the game 25 to 11, the Mountaineers held a lead over the number two seeded Phoenix.
However, fate would turn its ugly head when Elon (13-4-2) tied the game on a scramble in front of the net. Free made an initial save on the ball but the one that counted got past for the Phoenix and the game was tied 1-1 in the 88th minute.
The match would go through two overtimes with nothing giving either team the edge in a closely contested twenty extra minutes of soccer.
After 110 minutes the match went into penalty kicks to decide the winner and who would move onto the semifinal round in Greenville, N.C. Up first for the Mountaineers was Alex Herbst who would put the ball in the back of the net. Elon’s first was Charles Howard would went on to miss wide left.
Stanley Broaden was second up for the Apps and connected on a goal. James Brace from Elon followed Broaden with a goal of his own with App leading the shootout 2-1. Hemphill was third for the Mountaineers and got his attempt saved by Dean. Still 2-1, Elon’s next shooter, Matt Wescoe connected to tie the shootout.
Senior Harrison Delbridge was up next for the Mountaineers and blasted a goal past Dean for a 3-2 lead in the shootout. Jason Waterman would tie the shootout at three with a goal in Elon’s next attempt. Matthew Melton and Daniel Lovitz traded goals in the next round, as well as, Tommy Labriola and Elon’s Caue Da Silva. Tied at five, goalkeeper Holland Hammond scored for App State and Myles Mansfield scored for Elon. Patrick Harrow and Austin Dunker traded goals as well.
In the last round, tied at seven goals a piece, a Stephen Chapman shot was saved and Nick Butterly scored the game-winner for Elon and the Phoenix won the shootout 8-7 to advance to the semifinals.
Similar to 2012, Appalachian State’s season ends on penalty kicks. The Mountaineers fell in the 2012 SoCon semifinal match last season to Wofford on PK’s.
Broaden ends the season leading the Mountaineers in points with 14. Broaden had five goals and four assists. With his second half goal, Hemphill finishes with 10 points off of four goals and two assists. Chapman and Donovan Japp both finished with nine points, Delbridge with six, Melton with five, Herbst with four, five finished with two and two finished with one point.
Free finished the season playing every single minute making 72 saves and finishing with exactly 200 saves for his Mountaineer career.
Appalachian State will have some time off before they start preparing for its spring slate of games.