SAN ANTONIO (11-13) – Hardin-Simmons University scored two second half goals to overcome UC Santa Cruz 3-1 in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship in San Antonio.
The Banana Slugs' season ends with 5-11-3 record.
"For not having ever had an opportunity on this stage, I think our team played really well, and had a good run at possession for a while," said head coach Emily Scheese after the game. "We couldn't weather the storm for 90 minutes, but I think we gave them a good game."
Both teams won their last match. The Banana Slugs tied Salem College 0-0, but won a shootout to advance, last Sunday in Decatur while the Cowboys defeated University of Texas-Tyler 2-0 on Sunday in Abilene.
In the first half, the two teams would play back and forth soccer for the first fourteen minutes. With 30:22 left in the half, Kenne Kessler headed in a long volley to give the Cowboys a 1-0 lead. The Banana Slugs had several shots on the frame including a rocket by Gabby Powell. Unfortunately, Lexi Stinson for the Cowboys had four saves on the half. The Cowboys led 1-0 at halftime.
In the second half, the Cowboys would continue with their offensive pressure. With 35:17 left in the match, Jordan Lara scored to give the Cowboys a 2-0 lead. Less than eight minutes of clock time later, Kessler added her second goal of the evening to give the Cowboys a 3-0 lead. The Banana Slugs would get one back with 22:01 left in the match on a Kayla McCord goal to cut the Cowboys' lead to 3-1. The Banana Slugs would have a couple more opportunities at the goal, but every shot was saved by Stinson.
"That three freshman in Powell, Shaw, and McCord fought tooth and nail to get on the board and did so with such an elegant goal against such a talented side is indicative of a positive era of soccer to come at UCSC, with a young side that recognized the hallowed ground we go to play on," Scheese said.
Megan Carey had two shots to lead the Banana Slugs and Kessler had eight shots for the Cowboys. The win went to Stinson for the Cowboys and the loss went to Athena Del Rosario for the Banana Slugs. Hardin-Simmons had a 23-10 advantage in shots and had a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks.
"Sometimes, when we go down a couple of goals, teams can hang their heads. But, I think the fact we finished with a minute left and were camped on their end trying to get a corner, trying to dig something out of it, it just shows a lot about the character of the team," said Scheese. "We are happy about that. "