Improbable rally sends women's soccer to 2-1 OT victory over Hardin-Simmons
St. Louis, Mo.- Watching the seconds tick away on their season, the Wheaton women's soccer team mustered one last rally that will be talked about in the same conversation as last season's magical comeback against Washington (Mo.) University. Trailing 1-0, freshman Kristin Rauh headed in just her second goal of the season with 19 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Less than a minute into overtime, fellow freshman Ally Witt scored her 20th goal of the year to put Wheaton into the NCAA Sectional Final with a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Hardin-Simmons. Wheaton will play #3-ranked Washington (Mo.) University on Saturday night at 5 PM in a National Quarterfinal match-up. Wheaton came from behind to defeat Wash. U 4-2 in in the National Quarterfinals a year ago.
#11- Wheaton (20-3-2) outshot the Cowgirls of Hardin-Simmons 22-14 and 8-4 in shots on goal. The Thunder held a 3-0 advantage. Hilary Barreto (PICTURED RIGHT) made three saves while allowing one goal in 90:34 of work in goal. Hardin-Simmons entered play averaging over four goals a game. Lexi Stinson made six saves while allowing two goals in 90:34.
The first half brought the expected wide open style of play with Wheaton holding a 12-9 advantage in shots. However neither team could finish as both keepers registered three saves.
The Cowgirls started to swing play their way as the second half evolved and finall the buildup crescendoed in the 65th minute. Hardin-Simmons earned a free kick just outside the box that was vollied away but brought right back in by the Cowgirls. Devon Howard found an open Katie Kuykendall outside the box on the right side and Kuykendall sent a powerful shot across the mouth of goal that tucked itself just inside the far post to give Hardin-Simmons a 1-0 lead.
With their season in the balance, the Thunder tried unsucessfully to mount an attack as the Cowgirls were content to play away to space as Wheaton attempted to build an attack. Finally in the final five minutes, the Thunder were able to begin applying consistent offensive pressure that hemmed in the Cowgirl defense.
In the final minute, Wheaton was awarded a corner kick that was cleared away to the far side. Off the clearance, Shelby Anthony played to Amanda Brait (PICTURED LEFT) along the far sideline and Brait sent a high crossing pass to the near post where freshman Kristin Rauh headed the ball low and inside the near post to tie the game at 1-1 with 19.3 seconds remaining.
Carrying the momentum of the late goal, Wheaton built instant pressure on the restart of play and quickly found themselves threatening. Laura Karsten (PICTURED RIGHT) controlled a loose ball in the box and played to Ally Witt who pounded it past the keeper to give Wheaton a 2-1 victory just 34 seconds into the overtime period. With her 20th goal of the season, Witt ties Taryne Lee (2006) and Anna Loring (1994) with the second-most goals scored by a freshman.
The #2-ranked Cowgirls of Hardin-Simmons finish their season with a record of 18-1-2.
Note worthy: Wheaton is now 2-0 all-time against Hardin-Simmons. Wheaton previously defeated the Cowgirls 3-0 in the NCAA Sectional Semifinals in 2006...Wheaton was making their eighth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Sectional Semifinals...The Thunder have not lost an NCAA Semifinal match since 2005 (fell twice in penalty kicks)...Wheaton is now 42-9-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament for a winning percentage of .795...With their victory, Wheaton now has 20 wins for the third consecutive season.