WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ( Nov. 18, 2023) – For the second straight match, the No. 14 Florida National University’s men’s soccer team found itself at the heartbreaking end of a 5-4 penalty shootout, where the other team was victorious. Florida National (11-2-6) was eliminated from the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Tournament by the No. 11 Keiser Seahawks (12-3-6) Saturday after a 2-2 draw in regulation and overtime set up the dramatic final on penalty kicks.
This is the second year in a row that a Sun Conference school has sent FNU packing at this stage of the tournament, with St. Thomas University defeating the Conquistadors 2-0 on November 19, 2022.
In the opening half, Keiser got off to a great start with a penalty kick awarded to Mikael Baisotti after Fami Konate was tripped up in the box. Baisotti nailed the shot right past FNU goalie Juan Manuel Fermoselle to give Keiser the 1-0 lead in the 24th minute. But FNU is no stranger to playing from behind, and its equalizer came seven minutes before the break.
A stellar cross from Marcos Bakale allowed Bautista Dominguez to chip in a much-needed score to close out the half. Bakale’s assist was his team-leading ninth of the year and the Conquistadors were neck and neck with Keiser in most statical categories entering the second half.
FNU was aggressive at the start of the second, pressuring Keiser’s backline with relentless effort. FNU outshot Keiser 9-3 in the period and finally had their breakthrough goal come in the 62nd minute. Manuel Rodriguez was set up perfectly by Fabio Zandona Tajra and beat a Keiser defender before launching a beautiful ball past goalkeeper Santiago Nebot.
With a 2-1 lead, FNU began managing the clock, sending more players back to defend its goal. To their credit, this strategy kept KU at bay for the majority of the half until an 88th-minute high-flying goal from Timo Boomkens assisted by Konate sent both teams to overtime.
After two evenly matched periods of overtime, FNU looked to redeem their 5-4 Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) loss in PKs on Nov. 11 to Bellevue University with a high-stakes shootout versus the Seahawks. Notably, Keiser won their second straight Sun Conference title on penalties over St. Thomas 7-6.
The CAC’s Player of the Year, Ricardo Delwing, got FNU on the board first with a textbook penalty shot that settled in the back of the net. With a trip to the Round of 16 on the line, Fermoselle was clutch on Keiser’s first attempt, blocking Santiago Duque’s shot. Both teams would sink in the next few attempts before Nebot forced Keiser back into contention on a save versus Matias Leaniz, using his body to block the ball’s trajectory.
KU’s Tristan Silva made it a 4-4 affair with his goal on the very next trip to the penalty box and scores from FNU’s Leonardo Osorio and Keiser’s Malte Schmale extended this daunting shootout.
Unfortunately for FNU, Henrique Jordao’s PK missed wide right and Keiser’s Noah Southwell sent the Seahawks to the next round of the NAIA tournament with a thundering goal. The Seahawks will take on Indiana Tech University in Wichita, Kansas, on Nov. 28 in the Round of 16.