SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Hardin-Simmons' second-ranked women's soccer team advanced to the NCAA Sectional Tournament defeating Trinity 7-6 on penalty kicks, after a 2-2 tie through two overtimes.
The game is officially recorded as a tie and the Cowgirls are now 18-0-2 and Trinity ended its year with a record of 15-1-3. HSU is now 5-1 all-time in penalty kicks in the NCAA playoffs. This marked the 10th game between the two teams in the NCAA playoffs since 1999 and they are tied at 4-4-2 (HSU has won PKs both times).
Hardin-Simmons jumped on the board first with a Devon Howard goal in the 25th minute on an assist from Katie Kuykendall. Kuykendall found Howard in the box and she was able to get just enough spin on a shot to get it around keeper Katie Garrett for the early lead.
Trinity opened the second half with a flurry. The Tigers scored just :49 seconds into the half on a Shelby Guenthardt goal and at the 51:53 mark Guenthardt struck again to give TU the lead and the momentum.
HSU regained its composure and went on the attack and Devon Howard beat her defender wide and found Katie Haltiwanger who buried a shot to tie the game at the 57:38 mark.
The game was an offensive slugfest and both keepers and the goalposts and crossbar were active participants in the game. Both teams hit shots off the crossbar and Lexi Stinson had 10 saves and Garrett had five.
Trinity had 24 shots in the game and HSU had 22. Neither team held back in the overtimes as Trinity had five shots and HSU three.
"This was one of the best soccer games I have ever been a part of," said HSU head coach Marcus Wood. "Both teams played well and just countered the other's team punch every time. We have great respect for their program. The level of play on both sides was tremendous."
The penalty kicks were tense and both teams missed a shot in the first three kicks and it was tied 2-2 after three shots. Caitlin Cramer missed and Michelle Lanier made her kick to make it 3-2 Trinity heading to the final kick of the original five-shot shootout. Julianne Kucera made her kick to even the score and then Stephanie Segovia hit the post on a kick that would have given Trinity the win. Instead it went to extra kicks.
Devon Howard, Kristen Brockman Courtney Cramer and Haltiwanger all made their kicks for HSU. Emil Jorgens, Jennifer White and Kimberly Polasek all answered for Trinity. HSU led 7-6 when Lauren Henderson stepped to the line and she tried to go to the lower right corner and Stinson got her hands on it to knock it away and send the Cowgirls to the Sectionals.
"We have worked so hard on penalty kicks in practice the last few weeks, both offensively and defensively," said Stinson. "I didn't really have a read on the last shot I just reacted to the ball and fortunately got my hands on it. I was close on several of them. I am so happy for our team. We have worked so hard."
It was the second time the two teams had tied this season. It is the fourth straight year they have met in the NCAA Tournament with each team advancing twice.