Premier Development League
Gruenebaum, Frieberg lead Menace past El Paso for title in penalty kicks.
In the seventh round, Menace goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum made his second save of the extra session, diving to his left to deny El Paso's Daniel Casteneda. Then, Luke Frieberg went right up the middle to net the decisive PK as Patriots keeper Jimmy Garcia guessed wrong and dove to his left.
Des Moines nearly won in regulation when, one minute into stoppage time, Gruenebaum sent a long ball into the opposing box. Garcia punched the ball away, colliding with a pair of attackers in the process. The ball fell to Menace striker Armin Mujdzic, whose shot to the near left post was cleared off the goal line by defender Carlos Dominguez.
Two minutes into the first if two mandatory 15-minute overtime periods, Gruenebaum made a nice aggressive save for Des Moines, coming out to knock the ball off the feet of Daniel Frias, the 2005 PDL "Most Valuable Player" 12 yards from goal as the Patriots striker was driving in on the attack.
Two minutes later, Frias again found himself in alone after stealing the ball from Frieberg at the top of the box, but his shot was stopped by Gruenebaum, who was named the PDL Championship MVP.
Frias had 17 goals in 11 regular-season games this season, one off the PDL lead, trailing Andrew Metcalf of the Cape Cod (Mass.) Cruasaders and Frederico Moojen of the Cocoa (Fla.) Expos. Gruenebaum was third in the league with a 0.97 goals-against average in the regular season.
Mujdzic sneaked behind the Patriots defense six minutes into overtime a nailed a difficult shot that Garcia managed to get a hand on to deflect away.
The match was a back-and-forth affair as El Paso (11-3-2, 35 points in the regular season), the Mid South Division winner, and Des Moines (12-3-1, 37), the Heartland Division runnerup, both had chances on goal, but lacked the finishing touch.
Around teh 60th minute, Des Moines forward Justin McGeeney came close to scoring in regulation when he ripped a shot from just inside the 18-yard-line that struck the bottom of the crossbar and shot downward, but not into the net.
In penalty kicks, El Paso's Rodrigo Morin had his shot from the spot stopped by Gruenebaum in the second round to give Des Moines the advantage.
Des Moines' Cody Kother stepped up in the fifth round with the score 4-4 and a chance to win the affair, but his spot kick struck the underside of the crossbar and did not go in.
After Paul Cabrera scored for El Paso and Corey Farabi for the Menace in the sixth round, Gruenebaum made his decisive rejection and Frieberg secured the title for the Menace.
Farabi scored an unassisted goal in the 63rd minute to send Des Moines past the Orange County (Calif.) Blue Star 2-1 in last Saturday's semifinals.
Brad Evans put Orange County ahead 1-0, converting an assist from Tyler Theslof in the 43rd minute.
Two minutes later, Cody Kother equalized for the Menace, scoring off an assist from Jeff Wieland.
In the other semifinal, El Paso received two goals and an assist from Frias and used three goals in the second half to take a 4-2 lead en route to a 4-3 triumph over the Richmond Kickers Future.
After Andy McIntosh recorded an unassisted goal for a 2-1 Richmond lead in the 62nd minute, Frias tied the game at 2-2 for El Paso with Laurenco Andrade getting the assist seven minutes later.
Andrade put the Patriots ahead for good 3-2 when Andrade put away a pass from Victor Arreola in the 77th minute.
Four minutes later, Frias converted a penalty kick to make it 4-2 with Richmond pulling to within 4-3 on Christian Neagu's second tally, an unassisted effort in the 86th minute.
Miguel Larrosa put El Paso up 1-0 in the 13th minute with Frias providing the assist.
Neagu's penalty kick equalized for the Future in the 30th minute.