By: Jill Wunrow
VALPARAISO, Ind. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The No. 4 seed Green Bay (11-7-1, 5-3 HL) men's soccer team fell 2-1 to No. 2 seed Wright State (11-6-2, 5-2-1 HL) in the Horizon League Championship semifinal Friday at Brown Field on the campus of Valparaiso University. Green Bay tied the contest 1-1 in the first half but was unable to overcome Wright State's Justin Laird who scored both goals for the Raiders in the win.
"Wright State is a good team and I expect them to win the tournament, their attack is dangerous," said head coach Kris Kelderman. "We created our chances tonight and just didn't finish them."
Both teams scored in the first half in a span of less than five minutes. Wright State got on the board first in the 24th minute when First Team All-League selection Brian Cothern found All-Newcomer Team selection Justin Laird on the right side of the box. From 20 yards out Laird landed the ball in the upper left corner of the box for the 1-0 lead.
In the 29th minute Luke Goodnetter (Elm Grove, Wis.) was fouled in the right side of the box, giving the Phoenix the penalty kick opportunity. Horizon League Player of the Year Tony Walls (Wauwatosa, Wis.) converted his third PK of the season, knotting the contest 1-1.
The Phoenix outshot the Raiders 8-4 in the first half of play with Lawrence Talery (Coon Rapids, Minn.) leading the way with three shots, one on goal, while Walls and All-Newcomer Team selection Kirby Allen (Appleton, Wis.) added two each.
In the opening minutes of the second half (40:46) Wright State's Will McAteer had a breakaway open look at the goal when senior Tony Patterson (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) took away the scoring opportunity at the last second. Patterson's defense kept the game tied 1-1.
With 29:46 remaining Sam Krenzien (Wauwatosa, Wis.) beat his defender and was denied the striking opportunity for the Phoenix. Wright State later took the lead in the 28th minute when First Team All-League selection Brian Cothern found Laird on the cross pass for his second goal of the game and the 2-1 Raiders' lead.
"When they scored that goal it was like a replay of the last time we played them," said Kelderman. "They beat us down the flank and whipped it in and we were tight enough on our defense."
With 17 minutes remaining Green Bay was able to fire four shots in a matter of 30 seconds but was unable to convert against the Wright State defense.
"I give Wright State credit for playing well and winning the game but at the same time we had our chances to win," Kelderman said. "They took their chances and we didn't and that's the most frustrating thing is that we just didn't execute our chances."
"For whatever reason in the second half we got into a run and gun game and didn't play our game in the second half," said Walls. "I thought in the final third of the game we weren't as sharp as we should have been in this caliber of a game."
Green Bay outshot Wright State 18-13 in the contest while both teams had three corner kick opportunities. Goodnetter and Talery led the Phoenix with five shots each while Allen finished the game with four. Goalkeeper Ryan Wehking (St. Louis, Mo.) had three saves in the contest.
Known for scoring late in contests throughout regular season play, the Phoenix never gave up but time ran out on a successful season that featured 11 wins, including a five-game winning streak in the month of October.
"There are a lot of good memories from this season," Walls said. "I think the game at Tulsa turned everything around for us."
"I'm not surprised we started playing our best soccer at the end of the season just because it was a matter of time," Kelderman said. "I think it was a great season and I reminded our team that very thing after the game and we should be very proud of the season we had."
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