PHOENIX, Ariz. --- Soccer can indeed be a cruel game, and CBU got a bitter taste of its cruelty Saturday night.
Grand Canyon's Saeed Robinson scored the game's only goal with just 2:51 left in the second overtime to lift the Antelopes to a 1-0 PacWest title clinching win over the defending champion Lancers in the final regular-season game.
It wasn't so much Robinson's winner. That just threw salt in the wound.
Instead, what won't sit well with the Lancers was what happened just seconds earlier.
Chase Magdaleno played a 45-yard free kick into the area, and Cole Schmit rose above the crowd and flicked it into the back of the net for what appeared to be a thrilling championship-clincher. And as the Lancers erupted in celebration, madness ensued.
The referee never blew a whistle. The linesman kept his flag down. The Lancers were the champions--at least for three minutes.
However, in the midst of the celebration, the referees conferred. For three of the longest minutes of the season, time stood still. And at the end of it all, the referee called a foul on the Lancers, and the goal was taken off the board.
"We were convinced we had won," said Head Coach Ryan Jorden. "We were all led to believe we had won. I'm still not sure what happened."
A stunned Lancer squad was forced to work through the bewilderment and figure out a way to regroup and recover both emotionally and physically.
The 'Lopes were given a free kick inside their own six-yard box, worked the ball around for a few seconds and then played a long ball to Robinson, who got in behind the defense, took a ball from midfield and scored the winner.
"I'm tremendously proud of the guys," said Jorden. "We chased the title all year and played good enough football to win the league. We played the right way and did the right things. Congratulations to Grand Canyon, though. They are a terrific team and have had a great season as well. I'm convinced they will represent the PacWest well in the NCAA Tournament.."
The Lancers fall to 12-4-2 overall, 10-3-1 (31 points) and finish in a tie for third place with Notre Dame de Namur University, which they beat earlier this year.
The 'Lopes, ranked No. 8 in NCAA Division II, improve to 15-2-1, 12-1-1 (37 points).
Grand Canyon out-shot the Lancers 28-18 and Joey Pacheco made a career-high 10 saves.
CBU will now wait for the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) West Regional Tournament pairings to be released later this week. The Lancers are the defending NCCAA National Champions.