Hartsville, S.C.-  The Coker men’s soccer team defeated Belmont Abbey 6-5 on penalty kicks to claim the school’s first ever Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Championship. It was senior Jason Fowler (Sanford, Fla.) that put home the game winner for the Cobras as the seventh kicker in the shootout.

It was a neck and neck battle for more than 120 minutes of play with neither team conceding even the slightest advantage to the other. Belmont Abbey held a 13-10 shot advantage, while each goalkeeper made six saves in the match.

Each team had ample opportunities to put home the game winner, especially in the first overtime period. With just minutes remaining Coker senior Ben Beetch (Palmer, Alaska) made a career save, as he knocked away a Abbey direct kick from 18 yards out. Then just moments later Marc Mergena (Port-au-Prince, Haiti) nearly won a 50/50 ball, but Brandon Alvarez was able to make the save.

In the end it came down to a penalty kick shootout. Coker and Abbey stayed neck and neck yet again, with each team putting four of their first five shots in the back of the net. Then in the extra shooters, the sixth shooter for each team netted their shots and then as the seventh shooter Fowler was able to score for Coker, but Ross Smith sent his shot wide, giving Coker the 6-5 shootout victory and the win.

The Cobras win gives them their first Conference Carolinas title in history and also marks the first time a #5 seed has won the title in conference history.

Coker will now wait to see if they will advance to the NCAA Southeast Regional. The section will take place Monday at 7:00 p.m.

2009 All-Tournament Team

-Stuart Wright, Limestone College
-Luke Duffy, Lees-McRae College
-Marc Mergena, Coker College
-Aaron Wheldon, Belmont-Abbey College
-Ben Beetch, Coker College
-Jack Reid, Belmont-Abbey College
-Tyler Senecal, Coker College
-Emmanuel Yamson, Belmont-Abbey College
-Noah Lascell, Coker College

Finals MVP: AJ Sweeney, Coker College
Conference Tournament Champion: Coker College