The Austin Aztex (14-1-2) needed only one goal from Sito Seoane and allowed their defense to continue to shut down their opponents to advance to the USL PDL Championship game Sunday, Aug. 2 at House Park.

The game took a physical start through the first half as the Aztex looked to maintain possession of the ball and dictate their pace to the game. However, the Nor’easters were quick to knock the Aztex off of the ball and not allow the Aztex to get comfortable at their home field.

The Aztex defense were also able to contain Ocean City’s attack throughout the opening thirty minutes. Ocean City had their first chance to score when Nor’easter forward Zoncher Dennis beat an offside trap and was alone for a one-on-one with Aztex goalkeeper Devin Cook. Cook was quick off of his line and was able to thwart the scoring attempt by Dennis.

The save was the beginning of a series of acrobatic and clutch saves for Cook, a USL PDL finalist for Young (U21) Player of the Year and also Goalkeeper of the Year. Cook finished the evening with six saves and pushed his season shutout total to 11.

The Aztex scored the lone goal of the game in the 52nd minute when Zack Pope made a penetrating run along the left side of Ocean City’s penalty area. A defender knocked the ball out of bounds and Pope, the Aztex captain, had the presence of mind to make a quick throw in to Sito Seoane in the middle of the area. Seoane took a first touch that hit the ball straight up and then blasted a left-footed a full volley. The ball caromed off the inside part of the far post and into the back of the net.

“The ball was bouncing, but I didn’t doubt it,” Seoane said. “It’s awesome, tonight we’re going to enjoy it, but it’s not over, we’ve got one more game. Thunder Bay is a really good team, so we’re going to have to be ready.”

Seoane chose a fortuitous time to be the hero for the Aztex – not only was it the league semifinal, but the organization was giving out Seoane trading cards at the front gate. The goal was Seoane’s third for the Aztex during postseason play.

The Aztex advance to the USL League Championship match, where they will face the regular season champion Thunder Bay Chill (15-1-1) from Ontario. The Chill advanced to the title game after they defeated Victoria Highlanders FC 2-0 earlier Friday afternoon. The championship match will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4 at House Park.

“We’re excited,” Aztex midfielder Tony Rocha said. “We have never been in this situation before and we want to bring a championship to this great city.”

Box Score:

Score: Austin Aztex 1 (14-1-2) vs. Ocean City Nor’easters 0 (10-4-4)

Date: Friday, August 2, 2013

Where: House Park, Austin, Texas

Attendance: 3,062

Weather: Hot

Austin Aztex: Devin Cook, Zack Pope, Leone Cruz, Aaron Guillen (Walker Hume, 77’), Max Gunderson, Zachary Garcia, Tony Rocha, Andres Cuero (Chuy Cortes, 80’), Kris Tyrpak (Eddy Campbell, 81’), Khiry Shelton, Sito Seoane (Tucker Hume, 71’)

Subs Not Used: John Kaschak, Jeff Harwell, Alesi Osorio

Cautions: Sito Seoane (69’)

Ocean City Nor’easters:  Michael O’Keeffe, Kevin Curran (Timothy Mulgrew, 71’), Tapiwa Machingauta, Patrick O’Neil (Max Tassano, 90+’), Steven Perinovic, Ken Tribbett, Frank Tweneboa, Abdul Umar (Richardo Israel, 87’), Zoncher Dennis, Emmanuel Kollie, Dwayne Reid

Subs Not Used: Brian Billings, Peter Jannelli, Michele Pataia, Anani Mohamed

Cautions: Kevin Curran (33’), Abdul Umar (44’)

Scoring Summary:
Player:                                  Assist:                                   Minute:
Seoane                                 Pope                                     52’