The Wildcats’ season came to a heartbreaking end Sunday as the Hilltoppers of St. Edward’s defeated the Wildcats in penalty kicks 4Â-3. ACU and St. Edwards drew to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two extra time periods before the game was decided in the shootout.
After earning the fourth seed in the NCAA Division II tournament, the Wildcats defeated Angelo State 5ÂÂ-0 Friday for the third time this season. Andrea Carpenter scored twice against the Rambelles and Ashley Holton, Julie Coppedge and Krysta Grimm all tallied one goal in the match.
The Wildcats advanced with the win over ASU to play the top seed in the region St. Edward’s on Sunday.Â The Hilltoppers came out in the first half and attacked the Wildcats. ACU spent most of the first half defending in its own zone. St. Edwards would strike first with a goal by Kelly Servage in the 21st minute. Servage collected a loose ball in the box and blew it past goalkeeper Elliott London to make the score 1-0.
The Wildcats would answer with a late goal in the half to tie the match. Andrea Carpenter made a great individual effort to score her 22nd goal of the season. The goal gave the Wildcats some momentum late in the half, as they would play most of the remainder in the Hilltoppers’ end.
“The first half we struggled. They played well and controlled the majority of the half. Fortunately Andrea scored to give us a clean slate,” coach Casey Wilson said. “In the second half, we seemed to have more chances and were able to control the pace of the game, but when it comes down to a shootout, you never know what is going to happen.”
In the second half, both teams had their chances but neither could score. The game play became more balanced as the game evened up. After 90 minutes of play, the game was tied 1-1.
Two extra time periods still could not decide the game, as both teams defense would not budge. After 110 minutes of play, the game would go to penalty kicks.
The Hilltoppers’ would go up in the shootout 2-1 after three rounds, as both Carpenter and Coppedge were unable to convert on their kicks. Both teams would convert in the fourth round, making the score 3Â-2. In the fifth round, St. Edwards could win the game with a goal and Elliott London made a diving save to keep the Wildcats alive. Ashley Simon would convert on her kick to make the score 3-3 going into sudden death penalty kicks. St. Edwards would make its kick in the sixth round, and Holton just missed her kick off the post ending a great match.
“I think this season has been especially special for the seniors because they have been here from the beginning, and they have watched and helped the program grow into what it is now,” defender Lexi Stirling said. “Everyone on the team contributed this season, and I am so proud of our team for going as far as we did. It was a hard way to end the season, but we left it all on the field this season, so there is nothing to hang our heads about. We are going to take this season and build on it and come out even stronger next year.”
ACU ended what was a season of firsts for the soccer program. The Wildcats would their first conference title and make their first NCAA Tournament appearance this season.Â ACU set a record for most wins in program history at 17-4. ACU also saw some new records being set, as Carpenter would break the single season and career goal records for the Wildcats with 22 this year. ACU will graduate five seniors but should come back with a strong core of players next season.
“The experience we got this year was very valuable. We will miss the players that are leaving us, but we feel like we have a good core and that recruiting is picking up from where it was last year,” Wilson said. “The future is bright, and we are looking to make another good run next season.”