Nov. 20, 2010

Courtesy of Otterbein Athletics

The Otterbein University womens soccer team, now 20-0-2, tied fourth-ranked Loras College (IA) 0-0 and advances 3-1 on penalty kicks in the NCAA Sweet 16 Saturday afternoon.

Otterbein will now play Sunday at 1 p.m. against Denison University, with the victor advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. Denison, advancing 5-4 on penalty kicks over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, fought the Cards to a scoreless tie earlier this season in Granville.

The Cardinals controlled the majority of the possession early, working on the Loras half of the field to earn a handful of corner kicks in the opening 30 minutes.

Otterbein appeared to have taken a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute when Adrienne Novak found a ball in the box off a corner and buried it home, but an offside flag went up and the goal was nullified.

The Duhawks had two corner opportunities in the early minutes of the second half, but the ball would be cleared without any serious threat.

The teams exchanged brief opportunities, and Loras almost cashed in off a corner attempt in the 76th minute when 59” goalkeeper Katie Chambers came up and saw her header sail high.

Otterbein countered moments later with a cross into the box, and a deflected ball off sophomore Rachel Denz, who had gone up for a challenge with Chambers, was cleared away from the open net by a defender.

The Cards continue to develop chances, and had a good look with ten minutes remaining on a ball into the box, but an ensuing volley attempts from senior Rachel Degen trickled wide left.

Otterbein suffered a huge blow with 2:30 remaining in regulation when leading scorer Lindsey Rudibaugh received her second yellow card after a challenge with a Loras defender, forcing a red card and automatic ejection. As a result, she will miss Sunday's matchup with Denison.

Down a player, the Cards won two corner kicks at the beginning of the first overtime, and continued to battle through both ten-minute periods, forcing penalty kicks.

Loras buried its first penalty kick, and senior Jenny Knox was stopped on the Cards first attempt as the Duhawks took a 1-0 lead.

The hosts were unsuccessful on the next three attempts, including a crucial save by Otterbeins Tara Carter on the fourth.

With seniors Laura Vasbinder and Tara Smith connecting on the second and third attempts, respectively, junior Alyssa Hale stepped up to bury the winner and clinch a berth in the Elite 8.

In that situation, you have to block everything else out, channel your focus, and realize its just you and the goalie,” said Hale of the winning kick. It is an unbelievable feeling.”

Loras held an 8-5 shot advantage while Otterbein had a 12-4 edge on corners.

I started playing goalkeeper when I was nine, and have always enjoyed penalty kicks,” said Carter. Its an aspect where I feel comfortable, so I was very confident as those final seconds ticked away at the end of the second overtime.”

The Cardinals become the first team in school and Ohio Athletic Conference history to make the round of eight, registering a national-best 20th shutout in the process.