SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For the second time in three seasons, Concordia women’s soccer has advanced to the GPAC semifinals by winning a penalty kick shootout. Ultimately, junior Melissa Stine ended the contest when her penalty-kick strike clinched the shootout advantage to send the Concordia sideline into a state of jubilation on Thursday afternoon in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Bulldogs (9-8-2) will play the winner between second-seeded Hastings (13-4-1) and No. 7 seed Doane (7-10) on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Should Doane pull the upset, Concordia will host its semifinal game.
“I told (goalkeeper) Chrissy (Lind) that we just needed one save and we would win (the shootout),” Bulldog head coach Greg Henson said moments after Thursday’s match ended. “When we missed two penalty kicks in a row I started to get that sinking-gut feeling. Chrissy really stepped to the plate huge for us.
“Unfortunately that’s the only way to end soccer games like that. It’s not a great way to win or lose, but we’re much happier to be on the winning end.”
Sixth-seeded Concordia and third-seeded Briar Cliff (10-7-2) went scoreless after 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods in Thursday’s GPAC quarterfinal battle. That set the stage for the dramatic and rarely seen soccer shootout.
With the game hanging in the balance, the freshman Lind (third career shutout) made a pair of terrific saves, diving to her left and then her to her right to keep the shootout tied at 1-1 after three attempts by both teams.
“Those were two huge saves,” Henson said. “If you make one (in a shootout), you’re a hero. If you make two, you’re on top of the world. It was a big day for Chrissy.
“It was such an emotional swing. We missed two PK’s in a row and that’s when you start to think you’re in trouble.”
Leading goal scorer Rachel Mussell followed Lind’s two saves by burying the ball into the back of the net for a 2-1 edge, putting the pressure squarely on the host Chargers. Briar Cliff’s Bridget Lyons delivered a shot off the crossbar on the ensuing kick, providing Stine the opportunity to clinch the shootout.
The Omaha, Neb., native, cool under duress, stepped up and nailed the penalty kick to goalkeeper Kalynn Sortino’s right. Sortino got her hands on the ball, but it trickled past her and into the goal to set off the Concordia celebration.
It was the culmination of a stellar day for Stine.
“Stine had a tremendous game, especially in the first half,” Henson said. “She was up and down the wing all day. One of the things we wanted to do was get Stine and Moose (Mussell) up and down the wings on the attack.”
Of course, Concordia’s stingy defense has been a big key in its late-season run. Since star senior Jordan Donohoue has made a permanent move to the backline, Concordia women’s soccer has been doubly tough to score upon. The Bulldogs have allowed only three goals over the past five games, with just two coming in regulation.
The team’s 3-1-1 record (Thursday’s game officially counts as a tie) over the past five matches is even more impressive considering the Bulldogs’ 11 starters have covered the vast majority of the minutes with injuries limiting their depth.
“Our starting 11 went out and were warriors today,” Henson said.
Thursday’s game was reminiscent of Concordia’s 2011 GPAC quarterfinal in which it advanced on a 4-3 penalty kick triumph over Dakota Wesleyan. That particular game, played in Seward, went to a shootout after a 1-1 double overtime draw. The Bulldogs were defeated 3-1 at Hastings in the next round.
Concordia had a couple of promising chances to score in the first half. One such opportunity came about 35 minutes in when freshman Jordan McCoy hoisted a shot off the crossbar. The ball then bounded towards Mussell, whose attempt was blocked by a defender.
The Bulldogs outshot the Chargers 15-10 on the afternoon. Concordia also had a 10-6 advantage in shots on goal.
Sophomore Madison Hawkins (Omaha, Neb.) made the first of the Bulldogs’ three successful penalty kicks. Henson called her the team’s “unsung hero.”