Nov. 13, 2009

Courtesy of Central Oklahoma

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Nov. 13) -- For the third time in five years Central Oklahoma was ousted from the NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championship in a shootout as the Bronchos fell to St. Edward's in the first round of the South Central Regional here Friday night.

The two teams battled to a scoreless tie through 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods before the Hilltoppers prevailed 5-4 in penalty kicks.  SEU also eliminated UCO on PKs in 2006 and Regis knocked the Bronchos out the same way in 2005.

"That's a tough way to end the season," said UCO coach Mike Cook, whose team ended 14-6-3. "We fought hard and did a great job defensively, but we couldn't get much going on the offensive end.  I'm proud of the way this team battled after getting off to a slow start and this loss can't take away all that we accomplished this year."

The Bronchos, who captured the Lone Star Conference Tournament title in a shootout over West Texas A&M last weekend, went first in the best-of-five penalty-kick shootout and missed while SEU converted to take an early lead.

UCO got scores from Kelsey Springstead, Shayna Kindsvater, Summer White and Nathalie Bernigaud to tie it as Megan Riley made a save on the Hilltoppers' fourth kick.  That forced an extra penalty kick and SEU goalkeeper Claire Tilton made a save to set the stage for Kim Abbott to put in the tie-breaking goal for the Hilltoppers.

SEU couldn't convert two great chances in the second overtime, but Riley made a leaping save on one shot and a laser shot from 30 yards out going off the top post with 27 seconds left to go.

The Bronchos had as many shots in the 10-minute first OT (three) as they did in 90 minutes of regulation play.  Lizzie Merritt's shot from eight yards out off a corner kick was blocked and Katy Kashwer had two chances, with the Hilltoppers making a save on her second try from 15 yards away.

The Bronchos needed a brilliant second-half defensive effort to force overtime as SEU spent most of the time on UCO's end of the field.

Riley had five of her career-high eight saves in the second half alone, punching two close-range shots over the net and making another sensational save from point-blank range to frustrate the Hilltoppers, while Summer White also showcased fine defense.

UCO had just one second-half shot and that didn't come until the 87th minute on a Katelyn Cropp offering from 20 yards out that was easily saved.

UCO's best first-half scoring chance came seven minutes into the contest when Cropp had a free kick from 22 yards out that was knocked down by SEU goalkeeper Claire Tilton.

The Hilltoppers had plenty of opportunities in the opening 45 minutes with seven corner kicks, but UCO managed to keep SEU out of the goal behind good defense by Alli Miller, Dominique Dinka and Whitney Craft while Riley had a pair of sensational saves between the posts.