From University of Chicago Athletics
Sunday's NCAA Division III Championship quarterfinal between the University of Chicago women's soccer team and Pomona-Pitzer featured a wealth of gripping moments down the stretch. A Maroon goal in the final minutes forced overtime, and after two extra periods, a penalty kick shootout was required to determine who would move on.
In the end, UChicago seized a spot in the NCAA Final Four thanks to a 6-5 triumph in penalty kicks. The game was officially scored a 1-1 tie.
The No. 11-ranked Maroons (18-3-1 record) advanced to the national semifinals for the fourth time in program history. Their previous trips to the NCAA Final Four occurred in 1996, 2003 and 2005. The No. 18-ranked Sagehens ended the year with 17-1-4 record.
"This is an unbelievable accomplishment for our kids," said Head Coach Amy Reifert. "I'm so proud of how hard they fought to come back and tie the score in pretty dramatic fashion. In NCAA tournament games, it's hard to come back like that and we showed a lot of character, heart and resilience. We had so many individuals who stepped up for the team today, which made the celebration so very sweet.
"We were fortunate to defeat a very good team in Pomona-Pitzer," she continued. "We knew going into today that they would be a difficult opponent, in part because they play the game very much like we do. Penalty kicks are a painful way to lose an NCAA tournament game and we can't say enough about the Pomona-Pitzer team, its staff and its players."
The Sagehens were first on the scoreboard with a tally 5:26 into the match. However, it was UChicago who controlled the offensive action throughout. The Maroons owned a 35-8 advantage in shots and put 15 shots on goal. However, the opportunities were not resulting in goals. Sophomore midfielder Jenna McKinney notably hit the post in the 78th minute with her strike.
With the final minutes ticking away in regulation, UChicago found the equalizer in the 88th minute. Junior midfielder/forward Mia Calamari set up a goal by freshman midfielder Hanna Watkins – her sixth of the season and second in the past two games.
"After [Pomona-Pitzer's] goal early in the game, we continued to work hard to create chances," Reifert said. "I felt like if we could score, we would have a very good chance of winning. Taking it to the 88th minute made it pretty dramatic, but the goal was telling because so many players contributed in that attack before Hanna confidently and with composure put it away."
The two 10-minute overtime periods saw the Maroons outshoot the Sagehens 12-0, but no goals were forthcoming. The final horn signified a 1-1 tie. The opposing teams then commenced a penalty kick shootout to determine who would make the national semifinals. UChicago went first in the order and made their final four penalty kicks to put the pressure on Pomona-Pitzer. The Sagehens failed to convert on its opening kick and then were stopped by freshman goalkeeper Katie Donovan on their final attempt.
"To win 6-5 in penalty kicks shows how well our kids performed in that pressure situation and how fitting for Katie Donovan – who has come up for us big time and time again this year – to make the save to send us to the Final Four," said Reifert.
Donovan made two saves with one goal allowed in 110 minutes of action. She ran her season record to 18-3-1.