ST. LOUIS -- As it has done in every postseason match it has played this year, Capital found an early goal and held strong in the defensive third in the second half as it defeated Thomas More 2-1 in an NCAA Division III tournament sectional semifinal match at Washington (Mo.).
The Crusaders (19-4-1 overall) move on to face the nation's No. 1 team and sectional host, Washington (Mo.), in a national quarterfinal match at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
"I'm very excited about continuing our journey," Capital coach Chris Kouns said. "We've talked all year about how we have an opportunity for greatness … all we have to do is be the best team on the day we play each match. There's a belief among all our players that we'll find a way to do it."
Freshman forward Monique Hanayik scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, striking a shot inside the opposite post in the 76th minute to give Capital a 2-0 lead. Sophomore midfielder Allison Mervau recorded the assist on Hanayik's fourth tally of the season.
Capital, which has already advanced further than the program ever has and set a school record for wins in last Sunday's second round match, allowed its first goal of the postseason on a penalty kick in the 78th minute but held the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
"Thomas More came at us with a lot of pressure," Kouns said. "We knew we had to keep moving our defensive formation, and I think that weathered the pressure."
Senior defender Lauren Roy provided the first goal in the 30th minute.
Freshman midfielder Claire Quinn started the play with a corner kick. After a header by senior defender Corey McClellan was blocked by a Thomas More defender, Roy picked up the loose ball and placed it into the back of the net.
It was Roy's second goal of the season.
"As the moment showed, it doesn't matter who we're playing," Kouns said. "This group is dedicated to executing our set pieces, and those win championships."
The Saints (19-2-2) applied pressure early in the second half, taking three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of the period. But the Crusaders, led by senior goalkeeper Maggie Donnellan, refused to allow Thomas More to sustain momentum.
Donnellan, three-time Ohio Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, finished with 10 saves. Thomas More finished with 23 shots, compared to nine for the Crusaders.
Capital provided the only losses of the year for the Saints. The Crusaders also defeated Thomas More 2-1 in double overtime on Sept. 11 in Crestview Hills, Ky.
This year's team is just the ninth Capital team in any sport to advance to or finish in the nation's final eight in an NCAA postseason event. The most recent team to do it was the 2006 football team.