SAN MARCOS —
The third-seeded UTSA women's soccer team defeated No. 2 Stephen F. Austin in a shootout, 5-4, on Friday evening at the Bobcat Soccer Complex to advance to the program's first Southland Conference Tournament Championship match. The victory avenged a 2-0 setback five days ago in Nacogdoches.
“That’s the best soccer we’ve played in five years,” head coach Steve Ballard said after the match. “We stuck with the game plan and we’re playing like a team right now. I’m really proud of this group.”
After a physical defensive struggle to start the match, the Roadrunners (12-7-2) struck first in the 44th minute. Freshman Valentina Lefort dribbled to the middle and fired a shot at Ladyjacks goalie Lacey Lee, who deflected the ball back to junior Jodi Leroy and she drilled a shot in the top left corner for her third goal of the season.
Stephen F. Austin (13-5-2) answered with a wild flurry to end the half.
With less than 30 seconds to play, the Ladyjacks put a corner kick in front of the UTSA net. After two shots were blocked by Roadrunners defenders, Kim Kimmel put one final shot toward the goal that was ruled to have passed the line before the final buzzer sounded.
When the dust had settled, the two teams went into the break tied at one.
The Roadrunners nearly regained the lead in the opening minutes of the second half on a shot by junior Taylor Padia that hit the crossbar in the 50th minute.
Neither team managed a goal in the second half, leading to overtime.
Chances were limited for both teams in both extra periods. The Roadrunners came close in the first overtime, but senior Laurel Dierking’s header with less than a minute to go went wide.
Similarly, the Ladyjacks had an opportunity with less than a minute to play in the second overtime, but sophomore goalie Dacia Webb notched her sixth save of the evening on a shot from Janae Lee and that sent the game to penalty kicks.
Freshman Laylla da Cruz and juniors Katie Dugan and Taylor Padia opened the shootout with goals for UTSA, while Jordan King and Melissa Gaudet matched for Stephen F. Austin.
Webb recorded the first save of the shootout, diving to her left to stop Laura Sadler’s shot and give UTSA the advantage. However, Ladyjacks goalie Lacey Lee stopped freshman Anka Grotle’s offering, allowing Jordyn Young to tie the score at three.
Junior Brittany Wilson and SFA's Camille Royer each scored to force extra kicks, where Lefort gave the Roadrunners a 5-4 advantage.
That’s when Webb came up with her biggest save of the night, diving to her left to stop Edwina Forbes, which sent the Roadrunners to their first Southland Tournament Championship match.
“We had come this far and I just kept thinking that I’d stop the shot and send us to the championship,” Webb said. “We do penalty kicks for fun after every practice, so we were ready.”
“Dacia has been a tremendous goalie for us this season and she showed what she’s made of today,” Ballard said.
UTSA will take on Regular Season Champion Southeastern Louisiana (15-2-3) —
which defeated No. 4 seed Texas State, 3-2, in overtime on Friday — on Friday, at 1 p.m. on Sunday and the match will be televised by the Southland
Television Network (click here
for a list of affliates). The Lady Lions handed the Roadrunners a 1-0 home loss two weeks ago.
“We lost a hard-fought match against them two weeks ago, but we’ll have a game plan on Sunday,” Ballard said. “There’s no more pressure than normal and we’ll be ready.”