The No. 5 Eagles found themselves in a tedious battle on Saturday, November 3 against Hope International in the GSAC Tournament Semifinals at Eagles Field. Both teams had their chances to take the 1-0 lead, but Concordia struck first, and then again, to take the 2-0 win.
Joel Palomares came off the bench and broke the tie at 75:30 when he took a cross from William Prado from the right side and connect in mid-air with his left foot to punch it off the right post and in the goal. Christian Ramirez made it 2-0 at 77:46 when Prado set him up 10 yards from the goal. Ramirez lofted a beautiful volley shot over the goalkeeper's head to drop in his 20th of the year. Palomares scored his second in 2012 and Prado left the game with 12 assists this season.
"The coaches gave us a couple things to work on," Prado said. "Focusing on marking our men and playing more defensively, and using our counters. We did it and stuck together, and fortunately got that first goal, because they are a really good team."
Ramirez's 20th goal broke the single-season school record of 19, making him the most prolific single-season scorer in CU history. Julio Trejo pitched his sixth individual shutout of the year with two saves and improved to 15-1-1. HUI goalkeeper Jhovan Hernandez had three saves and fell to 11-8-1.
Both teams had numerous chances to take the 1-0 lead. Concorida outshot the Royals 19-9 and 5-2 in shots on goal. Hope's best early chance early came at 6:11 when Edgar Bran's shot was saved by Trejo. Concordia had three successive corner kicks in the first half, but Jose Tamayo's header at 24:42 was rejected by Hernandez.
Prado had a great look early in the second half for CU, but he tried to slip it in the left side and it went wide. He had another chance at 53:18, but the ball sailed high. Hope International's Sean Toth had a good look at 51:27, but his ball went wide. Hope's best chance to take the lead came at 71:05 when Juan Carlos Rodriguez had an open net on the left side after a great cross, but his shot bounced off the post. Just four minutes later Concordia finally cashed in and took control of the match.
"Both teams played really well and had good game plans," head coach Chris Gould said. "Christian Ramirez is a really well-rounded player, but the best part about him is that he is all about the team."
The No. 5 Eagles, who have been ranked in the NAIA's top-10 for nine straight weeks, will face San Diego Christian, who is making their first appearance in the GSAC Tournament, next Saturday, November 10 at 12 pm at Eagles Field in the GSAC Tournament Championship. San Diego Christian beat Biola 2-1 at home on Saturday. Concordia beat San Diego Christian on the road 4-3 on October 6.