In the first round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament, the women’s soccer team tied the United States Naval Academy after a grueling 110 minutes of play, only to fall short by one goal in penalty kicks.
p. Although Navy boasted a record of 21-0-1, the Tribe played hard, as the first half was almost even. Junior midfielder Donna Mataya started off the game with a shot just wide left, only to be followed by a blocked shot from sophomore forward Claire Zimmeck. Each team fired back and forth until the 17th minute, when senior midfielder Katie Hogwood fired a shot to the upper left corner, only to be denied by Navy’s fierce goalkeeper Lizzie Barnes. Each goalie made five crucial saves, one by Tribe sophomore goalie Meghan Walker in the 30th minute. Defense grew tighter as sophomore back Dani Collins had the only two shots on goal in the last 10 minutes of the half.
p. In the second half, the play continued to go back and forth, with most of the action in the midfield. Zimmeck heated things up as she swiftly beat two defenders, only to shoot wide left once again.
Defensively, Walker continued to play strongly as she came off her line and blocked Navy’s offense twice. Sophomore midfielder Abby Lauer made an outstanding defensive move as she got the ball out of the danger zone and obtained a goal kick for the Tribe. Furthermore, in the 70th minute, sophomore back Meredith Brown warded off the Navy’s vigorous attack with sheer determination and resistance.
p. With only one minute left to play, the crowd held its breath as Walker snatched a free kick out of the air and pursued the Tribe’s third fast break of the night, off of which senior midfielder Tiffany Chudoba gained a corner kick. Unfortunately, once again the College’s attack was halted by the midshipmen’s powerhouse defense and the two teams faced a heated overtime.
p. In the first overtime, both teams again volleyed back and forth. Walker made her fourth amazing save from a shot just out of the box. Lauer and Collins continued to attempt attacks only to be blocked by Navy’s goalie. In the second overtime, Zimmeck almost sealed the game as she vehemently battled the ball away from the goalie, only to have it stolen by another Navy defender. On defense, Walker had no action and went into penalty kicks with five outstanding saves and a new average of .68.
p. After a long, hard-fought game, the outcome came down to penalty kicks. Star offensive players Collins, Mataya and Lauer started the Tribe off on the right foot by keeping even with Navy. Amazingly, Walker turned away Navy’s fourth attempt and sophomore midfielder Laura Rochford brilliantly fired a shot into the lower left corner, putting the Tribe ahead by one. Navy then made their fifth shot and Zimmeck’s chance to put the game away was crushed as her shot deflected over the bar. Navy scored on their sixth penalty kick and then stopped freshman midfielder Kendall Stone’s shot to ensure a Navy victory.
p. “In penalty kicks there is always an element of a lottery about the outcome,” Head Coach John Daly said. “One wrong guess and the game can be over.”
p. Although the Tribe was unable to advance, they still had an overwhelmingly successful season — winning 16 games and finishing with only one loss, the fewest losses in a season in school history. Furthermore, with a 10-0-1 record in the CAA, the Tribe set a new school record for wins in a season.
p. “It was an outstanding season, with tremendous leadership and team chemistry being the two most important factors,” Daly said.
“We suffered only one loss the entire season and there was a ‘feel good’ factor all season that helped us believe we could compete with the best.”