Nov. 15, 2009

Courtesy of University of the Incarnate Word Athletics

In Sunday's Round Two matchup of the NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championship, the University of the Incarnate Word, the number 2 seed of the South Central Region, faced off against St. Edward's University in the third game of the season between the two schools.

The teams, both member of the Heartland Conference, had split their regular-season meetings, with both schools winning their games at home and both games being a one-goal victory. UIW had beaten the Hilltoppers late in the season and managed to take the conference crown and win the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. SEU defeated University of Central Oklahoma on Friday night, outlasting the Bronchos in a 5-4 penalty kick shootout to advance to the second round for the Cardinals, who, as host, had a first-round bye.

On Sunday, St. Edward's dominated possession, won nearly ever header and survived a few breakaway chances to get the 1-0 victory on the Cardinals' home field and advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The goal came in the 32nd minute as St. Edward's (16-3-2) got a header off a corner kick for the lead. Defender Alex Podowski, who had gotten a piece of two corner-attempts prior to that cross, buried the pass from Bethany Bennett for Podowski's first goal of the season.

"(Alex) is good at those," SEU head coach Nick Cowell said after the game. "She's had some real near misses lately, so we know she can put those away."

The Hilltoppers outshot the Cardinals (15-3-3) 13-4 and UIW had no shots on-goal for the first time this season. Incarnate Word had a few breakaway chances against SEU goalkeeper Claire Tiflon, but each opportunity was just a kick or a touch away from finding its way on-net.

"It's a disappointing loss, but we're proud of the ladies and what they accomplished this year," UIW head coach Tina Patterson said. "St. Edward's played well and we wish them well."

The Hilltoppers advance to face off against the winner of the other half of the South Central Region between West Texas A&M (the No. 1 seed) and Truman (the no. 4 seed).

Cowell said either team from Sunday's game in San Antonio would give the rest of the field a serious challenge.

"I'm proud of our team and UIW should be proud too," Cowell said. "No matter who won today, the Heartland Conference would have been well-represented the rest of the way."