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Master's Falters in Second Half

Soccer: Mustangs blow halftime lead in 2-1 loss to Hawaii Pacific in NAIA regional tournament.


NEWHALL — Hail, Cesar and the Sea Warriors. But don't blame The Master's College men's soccer team if it doesn't join in.

The Master's, top-seeded in the NAIA Far West Region Independent tournament, blew a one-goal lead Tuesday and lost to No. 2-seeded Hawaii Pacific, 2-1, in the title match.

The Mustangs (16-4-2, 10-3-1 in region play) held a 1-0 lead on a goal by forward Bryan Lee.

But the Sea Warriors (17-1-1, 15-1-1) tied the match midway through the second half on a goal by Tony Stephanov. The match-winner, in sudden-death overtime, was scored by Cesar Jube in the 125th minute, after a 50-yard free kick by Marcello Rodrigues bounced off a Master's defender in front of the goal.

The loss denies Master's a ninth consecutive appearance in the NAIA Far West Region title match, against the Golden State Athletic Conference champion. The winner of Hawaii Pacific-Azusa Pacific match advances to the 12-team NAIA national tournament Nov. 25-30 in Birmingham, Ala.

Making Tuesday's match harder to swallow for the Mustangs was that they held a man advantage for the last 45 minutes, after Hawaii Pacific's Diego Yemal was ejected for striking Master's Gustavo Durruty.

"We had plenty of chances . . . wide-open goals and wide-open shots," Mustang Coach Jim Rickard said. "It's depressing when you miss chance after chance. The defense works so hard for nothing."

Rickard's defenders were sternly tested by Sea Warrior strikers Stephanov and Jube, whose goal was his 28th of the season. Hawaii Pacific held only a 21-20 edge in shots, but seemed more threatening with the ball, even while playing shorthanded.

"What made the difference today was [Hawaii Pacific's] individual skills," Master's midfielder Paul Dojo said.

The Master's held an edge in momentum in the first half and scored in the 36th minute. Hawaii Pacific defender Brad Ventura missed the ball on a clearing attempt, allowing Lee to collect the ball in the penalty area and score his 14th goal after racing in alone on goalkeeper Scott Liedtke.

Stephanov tied the match in the 69th minute with a low, left-footed shot.

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