Nov. 19, 2010

Courtesy of Emory Athletics

Emory University senior Lauren Smith's two penalty kicks during the shootout round allowed the seventh-ranked Eagles to advance to the quarterfinal round NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championships for the first time in the history of the program, after a 1-1 tie with fifth-ranked Wheaton College in Abilene, TX.

In a game that needed two overtimes and extra penalty kicks to decide an advancing team, Smith bookended the shootout round with successful shots for Emory, including the match-clincher to give the Eagles a final 9-8 advantage. The 17 shots made between the two teams during the shootout match a school record for Emory, set first during a 9-8 shootout win over Trinity University on November 8, 1998.

The Eagles fell behind early, as Wheaton scored on a goal from Laura Karsten at the 6:15 mark. Karsten was able to notch her eighth goal of the season after collecting a corner kick from Katelyn Kishkunas and shooting it into the back of the net. It was the 16th assist of the season for Kishkunas.

However, Emory would strike back later in the first frame, as senior Sara Belsole scored her fifth goal of the season in the 22nd minute of play. The goal was set up by freshman Clare Mullins, who played a loose ball to Belsole inside the box. Belsole then shot the ball into the lower corner of the goal to even the score at a goal apiece. It was the team-leading sixth assist of the season for Mullins.

The two teams would head into halftime tied at 1-1. Each team took two shots on goal apiece during the first half, although the Thunder held a 5-2 advantage in total shots, and a 9-1 advantage in corner kicks.

Emory would come out firing in the second half, outshooting Wheaton by a 9-3 total margin, including a Meghan McMahon shot that hit off the crossbar. The Eagles would also hold an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks and a 3-2 advantage in shots on goal during the second frame. However, neither team would score, as the game would head into overtime.

The Eagles continued to create opportunities in overtime, outshooting the Thunder 6-3 in the two overtime frames, including a 3-1 bump in shots on goal. However, once again neither team would score, ending the game in a tie, but sending the game into penalty kicks to decide which squad would advance.

With Hilary Barreto in goal for Wheaton and Kaele Leonard between the pipes for Emory, the Thunder would shoot first. Both the Thunder's Amanda Brait and Emory's Smith each hit their first penalty kicks, while Shannon Keri and Lauren Drosick each missed. Wheaton's Jamie Orewiler and Emory's Emily Rubin each matched goals, but in the fourth round, Katelyn Kishkunas would hit for the Thunder, while Claire Rubel missed for Emory to set up a match-clinching attempt for Wheaton.

However, in the fifth round, Wheaton's Ali Kopelman missed, while Mullins struck for Emory to even the count and allow the penalty kicks to continue. Still shooting second throughout, Emory's Katy Kruse, Kelly Costopoulos, McMahon, Ashley Kaiser and Lauren Gorodetsky would all match their Wheaton counterparts with the match on the line to keep the penalty kicks going.

Finally, Emory would get an opportunity for the victory, after the Brait missed her second attempt in the shootout round. Kicking for the win, Smith would not disappoint, hitting the shot and allowing the Eagles to advance.

Before today's match, Emory had not had a game decided by penalty kicks since the 2000 season, when the team fell to Trinity University in a shootout, 3-1.

Emory's record moved to 16-1-4 on the season with the tie, while Wheaton's campaign ended with a record of 20-2-2.

The Eagles will advance to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division III Women's Championships on Saturday at 2:00 PM in Abilene, TX. Emory's opponent will be second-ranked Hardin-Simmons University, which will enter Saturday's match with a perfect 22-0-0 record this season.