DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Simpson men's soccer team drew even with two quick goals in the second half but couldn't sustain the pressure, giving up three unanswered scores in a 5-2 loss to Loras in the semifinal round of the Iowa Conference Tournament on Wednesday.
Loras led 2-0 and looked to be in control of the game before Tanner Alderson and Darius Doswell scored goals just over one minute apart to pull even 2-2 and give the fifth-seeded Storm (12-8-1) new life.
"Our guys displayed a lot of heart and grit in fighting back to equalize during the second half," head coach Rick Isaacson said. "That never-quit attitude is what I've come to expect from this team."
The rally was short-lived, however, as the top-seeded and defending champion Duhawks (13-4-0) got the go-ahead goal from Alex Bradley a little over three minutes later. A header by Jonah Jacke made it 4-2 in the 75th minute and Chris Paulino added a goal in garbage time.
Loras -- who will host third-seeded Luther in the IIAC Championship game Saturday -- scored in the seventh minute, then went up 2-0 just 43 seconds into the second half. The defense paid close attention to IIAC goal-scoring champion and MVP candidate Garrett Pochop, who couldn't get a quality look at the goal in three shots on the night.
"We conceded quick goals in both halves," Isaacson said. "By putting ourselves in a deficit against an opponent like Loras, we were forced to chase the game from the onset."
Wednesday marked Simpson's fourth trip to the IIAC Tournament Semifinals in six years under Isaacson, each of which has ended in a loss to Loras.
The 2016 team looked like it might not have a chance to even reach the IIAC Tournament after suffering a four-game losing streak and falling to 6-6-1. But Simpson rallied, winning 5 of 6 to close the regular season and beating Central on the road in the first round of the league tournament.
"Unfortunately, we fell short of our goal to win a conference championship this year," Isaacson said. "Even in defeat, I'm proud of this group and what it was able to accomplish this season. In the end, we proved to be an imperfect team, but a team I'd go to battle with any day."
"Those five guys set a great example for our younger players to follow," Isaacson said. "They'll be missed and I'm grateful for their contributions to this program."