Lions Soccer To Play NCAA Elite Eight Game In Colo. On Friday
The Texas A&M University-Commerce women's soccer team is one of eight teams remaining in the NCAA Division II tournament. The Lions will play Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo., in the next game of the tournament on Friday. If A&M-Commerce wins, it would advance to play either Western Washington or California-San Diego at a location to be determined on Sunday.
The Lions defeated Midwestern State University 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament on Nov. 13. The Lions scored their goal in the 33rd minute and held off the Mustangs to win the game.
The win brings the Lions to 15-5-1 on the season. MSU falls to 13-6-4 on the season. It was the second time the Lions had faced MSU in a seven-day span and the fourth time this season. MSU defeated A&M-Commerce on Nov. 6 to win the Lone Star Conference postseason championship. The Lions finished the season series against 3-0-1.
"This game wasn't really about revenge," said A&M-Commerce head coach Neil Piper. "It was about us trying to move on in the tournament, no matter who we were playing. It just happened to be them. Obviously they have played a lot of games here lately. Us earning the No. 2 seed paid off today."
The Lions will now hit the road to face the No. 1 seed Colorado School of Mines, who has a record of 19-2-1 for the season. The game will be played at 1 p.m. CST on Nov. 18 at Stermole Stadium in Golden.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- The lone goal came in the 33rd minute. Savannah Grasser took the corner kick and Sophie Haywood was there to head the ball into the net. It was her fourth goal of the season. It was Grasser's sixth assist on the year.
- Caitlin Duty two saves for the Lions as MSU struggled to get the ball into the goal area for shots. MSU had two shots on goal in the match.
- Courtney Burnette had five saves out of six shots on goal for the Mustangs.
- The Lions had 17 shots compared to MSU's 11 and had seven corner kicks, with six of them coming in the first half.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lions came out aggressively in the first half of the match. They had a shot and a header in the second minute of the game, but both missed the mark.
They had another golden opportunity in the tenth minute. The ball was kicked inside the goal box and Vicky Back had a header that hit off of the crossbar. The ball was rebounded by Kasey Sorbers, who took a shot but could not get the ball past Burnette.
The Lions converted their second opportunity. After forcing a corner kick, Grasser booted the ball from the left side toward the box and Haywood out jumped the MSU defense and got her head on the ball. It was directed into the net for the lone goal of the game, which came in the 33rd minute.
The Lions had another opportunity in the next minute with a header from Michelle Kotlik but the shot was saved.
The Mustangs had an opportunity late in the half. Imani Morlock had a shot that was turned aside by Duty out of bounds. The Mustangs took the corner kick and took another shot but it was blocked as the Lions defense swarmed the shooter.
The Lions had a shot opportunity to start the second half. Sorbers took the shot but it was saved by Burnette. The Mustangs had a shot of their own in the next minute but it went high.
Both teams missed opportunities as the goalies were on point to stop any shot attempts in the second half. A shot by Jazsmin Coronado was saved by Burnette after Duty had a save of her own against Taylor Robinson of MSU.
The Mustangs had troubles getting the ball into the goal area as the Lions had pressure in the middle of the field. The Mustangs had four more shots, but none were on goal and the Lions escaped with the 1-0 win.
Hear from the head coach
A&M-Commerce coach Neil Piper on the game: I felt like we came out in the first half and played very well and created many chances. We finally scored near the end of the half, which I thought was well deserved. I think at halftime we were a little disappointed that we only scored one because I knew Midwestern would give us a fight in the second half. And they did. Apart from a few chances that we had, which were pretty good chances, we pretty much survived the second half and defended our lead. I felt like we played well and it was enough to win. We are excited to move on.
The challenge to face Midwestern State for the fourth time this season: It's challenge, especially against a good team. To beat them three times 1-nil and to go to penalty kicks with them after being tied 1-1, it's definitely a challenge for both teams. They won here last week. But this game wasn't really about revenge. It was about us trying to move on in the tournament, no matter who we were playing. It just happened to be them. We played well. Obviously they have played a lot of games here lately. Us earning the No. 2 seed paid off today.
What the home field advantage has meant to his team this season: I think it has been great. But sometimes, it is nice to go on the road. You are a little more unified. There is more of a schedule and you know where everyone is and what they are doing. We are actually looking forward to going to Mines. When you are at home, sometimes people are doing their own thing. Obviously I'm not looking forward to the altitude too much. Mines has knocked us out the last couple of years. We will try our best to give them a fight.
Thoughts on the challenge of facing Colorado School of Mines: They are solid everywhere. I think we caused them problems last year but half of their team was missing. They are difficult to beat at their place. They know that. I think we have a shot obviously, or we wouldn't be going. We will do our thing. They know what we are going to do and we know what they are going to do. Hopefully the third time is the charm.
MSU coach Damian Clarke on the game: You can't fault the effort. We lost to a tough team that played very well. Their game plan ended up carrying the day. I think, when it comes down to it, our team was excellent but just didn't quite find the goal that we usually do.
On the way his team fought through the postseason: We've shown that we have a pretty special mentality. The program continues to grow. I am honored to be a part of a group of women that are as tough as these ones. We will only get better.
How the success of the season will benefit the program in the future: When it comes down to it, the better you do, the easier it is to be attractive to more quality players. I think we are set for the next couple of years. We have a lot of freshman kids that have impacted us and we have a lot of kids coming in that are going to impact us. I think we just reaffirmed to a lot of our committed kids that this is the right choice for them.