Abilene Christian reaches third round
Ferrara’s golden goal ends Midwestern State’s title run
ABILENE, Texas -- Abilene Christian punched its ticket for the third round of the NCAA tournament following Sunday's thrilling 2-1 overtime victory against Midwestern State.
Jacey Ferrara scored the golden goal with 30 seconds left in the first overtime after Krysta Grimm redirected Julie Coppedge's indirect free kick toward the sophomore defender.
The goal -- Ferrara's first of the year -- was initiated following the Mustang's 20th foul of the mach, setting up Coppedge to take the kick from the far end of the 18-yard box. Coppedge booted the ball toward the middle, and from there Grimm tapped it to Ferrara, who took one step before firing the ball past goalkeeper Mallory Whitworth and into the back of the net.
“I'm speechless, I'm so excited,” Ferrara said. “I've been taking shots like that all season, and on this one I just hit it with everything I had. The ball was right there in front of me, I kicked it, and no one was in the way.”
“Over the last 10 matches we haven't scored on many of those opportunities, so it was nice to have it, but we had to earn it,” said head coach Casey Wilson, who is taking his team to NCAA third round for the first time in program history. “We we're here last year and it was great to see this team take it a step further. We have to keep raising the bar.”
The victory improves ACU's record to 19-1-1 and sends them to Cal State Los Angeles for a Friday rematch with Dallas Baptist, which upset Central Oklahoma 1-0.
For Wilson the next round sets up a homecoming trip for himself and players Olivia Engelsman, Stephanie Heron and Ashley Holton. Wilson hails from Anaheim, Heron from Upland in the San Bernardino Valley, while Engelsman and Holton are natives of Capistrano Beach and San Diego.
“I already feel like we have somewhat of a home-field advantage built in for our next match,” Wilson said. “I have a lot of friends and brothers who live out there that haven't seen this team play yet, so it's going to be exciting for them to get that chance.”
ACU's tickets to California also were paid for through the hard work of senior goalkeeper Elliott London, who tied a personal best of 11 saves, none bigger than the one she made on Emily Saville's penalty kick in the 35th minute.
London admittedly does not like defending PKs, but she was more than ready to defend with her team holding a 1-0 lead.
“I don't like PKs because of all the open space the attacker has, but I'd been watching people and knew where this one was going,” London said.
Saville's kick stayed close to the ground, but London read the right direction off the left-footed kick and made the sliding stop going toward the far post.
The Wildcats' lead, however, disappeared midway through the second half when senior Mustang attacker Kelsey Hill headed in Lyndsey Pritchard's cross from inside the six-yard box. Similar to the goal she scored during last week's Lone Star Conference championship match, Hill again got over the ACU defenders, timing her jump perfectly to butt in the cross sent in from the near side.
The goal was Hill's 11th of the season, and for Pritchard, it was her seventh assist.
From there both teams ratcheted up their level of aggression both on the ball and each other as 10 more saves were made in addition to a combined eight fouls with yellow cards handed out to ACU's Ashley Craig and MSU's Hill.
Whitworth at one point was called on to make four consecutive saves from the 71st through the 77th minute, and then it was London's turn to be peppered as she stopped three consecutive during a 10-minute span. Whitworth went on to save two more of Grimm's shots in the 89th and 96th minutes and finished the contest with 11.
Grimm placed five of her six shots on goal, with Whitworth only missing on a penalty kick in the eighth minute. ACU was presented the kick after a MSU player delivered a hard foul on Andrea Carpenter.
Grimm was in a similar situation before last Sunday, and missed, but today she beat Whitworth to the near post in giving ACU a 1-0 lead.
“After that last match I've worked hard all week on my PKs,” Grimm said. “And I kept telling myself I'd never miss another one. I went up knowing I owed it to my teammates to make this shot. I had to redeem myself.”
Wilson said he had no reservations about Grimm taking the penalty kick.
“Krysta is mentally strong and I was confident she would score,” he said. “This and last Sunday's matches were both very physical games. There were lots of fouls and we end up getting the PK.”
The two sides combined for 36 fouls and three yellow cards with Craig's serving ACU's fourth of the season.
The Wildcats also finished the match with a 20-18 advantage on shots, and had eight corner kicks to two for MSU, whose season closes at 14-6-2.