Locomotive FC advance to Western Conference Finals with dramatic penalty-kick win over NM United
EL PASO, Texas -- Those familiar with the United Soccer Championship had a feeling it would come down to El Paso Locomotive FC and New Mexico United at some point. But many didn't know that not even 120 minutes could crown a winner.
After El Paso Goalkeeper Logan Ketterer came up with a diving stop in penalty kicks, Distel Zola's right footed shot past New Mexico goalkeeper Cody Mizzell gave Locomotive FC the dramatic victory.
The win sends Locomotive FC to the Western Conference Final, where they will meet Phoenix Rising next Saturday night on the road (8:30 pm MT).
With both clubs' season on the brink in the Western Conference Semifinals, penalty kicks decided the outcome at Southwest University Park after the two sides played to a 1-1 tie after 120 minutes.
El Paso's lone goal came on Dylan Mares' curling right-footed shot from the edge of the box, erupting the crowd as the ball nestled into the top right corner in the 30th minute.
It appeared as if El Paso was going to win the match in regulation. But New Mexico's Romeo Parkes had a prayer answered from well outside the box in the 95th minute, when his low driven shot squirted past Ketterer for the equalizer.
Parkes' goal was the lone New Mexico shot on target at the time.
In the penalty shootout, every single Locomotive player made their attempt, and Ketterer's lone save was all Mark Lowry's team needed to survive.
It marked the second straight victory for Locomotive FC on penalty kicks, as El Paso defeated FC Tulsa last Saturday night in the Western Conference Quarterfinal.
The rivalry between El Paso Locomotive FC and New Mexico United is well documented given the teams proximity. In four regular season matchups, the teams each won once with two draws.
Tonight's match in El Paso was assured the final home match for Locomotive FC, given the results on the Eastern Conference side of the USL playoff bracket.
Locomotive FC is the lowest remaining seed remaining in the USL Final Four.