NAIA Men: Central Methodist captures title in first postseason appearance

In its first postseason appearance, Central Methodist captured the NAIA men's championship, beating Missouri Valley, 4-3, on penalty kicks after their match ended in a 2-2 tie.

Hungarian keeper Vince Gelei made two saves in the shootout to set up Italian freshman Alberto Pangrazzi for the winner.

Missouri Valley struck first in the final on a Gianmarco Donnini header in the 18th minute. Paraguayan Rodrigo Paredes scored his third goal of the tournament to tie the game in the 40th minute, and Central Methodist moved into the lead on a goal by Marcos German just 62 seconds into the second half. But Ruben Jimenez tied the game up for Missouri Valley when he put away a deflected ball in the 69th minute.

Central Methodist's roster consists of 22 foreigners, plus senior Connor Blitz, a starting defender from Colombia, Missouri. The starting lineup featured players from nine different countries.

The meeting was the third of the season between the Heart of America Athletic Conference rivals. They played to a 0-0 tie in October, and Missouri Valley won, 2-1, in the conference tournament final.

The champion Eagles, who entered the postseason as the No. 3 seeds behind William Carey and Oklahoma Wesleyan, finished with a 22-2-2 record. Their only other loss was to Benedictine College in September.
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