Just two days after taking the game down to the wire against McNeese State before coming up with a 5-3 in penalty kicks, the Wildcats again found themselves in a similar situation, but this time with Stephen F. Austin. And this go around it was the Lumberjacks come away with 4-2 shootout victory.
The women extended their streak of shutout soccer to a 220 minutes of tournament play on Friday against SFA, but couldn’t come up with a goal themselves. ACU had its fair share of opportunities, outpacing the Lumberjacks 28-9 in total shots, but SFA places 77 percent of its attempts on frame to provide just enough pressure and keep the Wildcat attack at bay. Junior Dylan Owens spearheaded the offense with six shots, four of which were on goal.
In the shootout it was ACU striking first, as sophomore Michelle Mulrooney converted just like she did against McNeese. But after making its first six penalty kicks of the tournament, senior Megan Baer’s attempt missed and the Lumberjacks took a 2-1. Freshman of the Year Christina Arteaga, who fired five shots during regulation, found the back of the net with her attempt, but SFA kept its lead after the ball snuck under ACU’s freshman goalkeeper Erin Smith.
Smith would eventually win all-tournament honors for her efforts. She was the only player from a team other than eventual champion Lamar and runner-up SFA to be named to the team. She posted 220 minutes of shutout soccer during the tournament.
Trailing 3-2 at that point, senior Chloe Fifer, who also successfully converted her attempt on Wednesday, was unable to drive it home. That left SFA’s Hanna Barker with a chance to send her team to the final. And Barker did just that. She made good of her attempt and the Lumberjacks advanced with a 4-2 win in shootout fashion.
SFA lost to Lamar 2-0 in the championship, and it will be the Cardinals representing the Southland Conference in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats finish the season 9-11 overall, and in their first year as a fully eligible Div. 1 team, advance to the semifinal of the conference tournament, which should set the tone for years to come.