Cobber defenders Kelsey Swagger and Erika Swenson put the clamps on a Macalester forward in Concordia's 3-1 win.
|How Sweet 16 It Is!|
ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/15/09)-- For the second straight NCAA Tournament game Concordia scored multiple goals in the second half and came away with a two-goal win. On Sunday in the second round of the national playoffs, the Cobbers erupted for three goals in the final 45 minutes and outlasted Macalester 3-1.
With the win Concordia advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. The Cobbers will play Lynchburg (Va.) in the round of 16 at Trinity University in San Antonio, Tex. The victory is also the 18th on the season which extends their school-record total. CC is now 18-0-2 on the year. Macalester finishes their season with a 14-6-3 mark.
Three different Cobber players scored in the win. Freshman Killashandra Link notched the first goal of the game at 68:20. MIAC MVP Sam Johnson added the second goal in the 81st minute before Abby Habein closed off the scoresheet with a dead ball goal at 88:18. For Johnson it was her team-leading 22nd goal of the season.
The Scots almost sent a shockwave through Concordia in the very first minute of the game. Macalester forward Emily Bardwell intercepted a pass in the CC defensive third and turned and fired a shot that deflected off the top of the crossbar as she tried to hit the far left side of the net.
After dodging that early scoring attempt, the Cobbers settled into the game and started to attack through possession while the Scots tried for quick attacks driven through the feet of Bardwell. Bardwell finished the first half with six shots and was the most dangerous player on the field.
Concordia had a couple of sustained chances but was never dangerous in the opening 45 minutes of play.
That all changed in the second half when Concordia started to up their tempo and take the Macalester defenders on in 1 v. 1 situations. The Cobbers played balls down the wing and were rewarded with a pair of quality chances in the first 10 minutes of the second period. Both chances came off the foot of Megan Rice. On the first opportunity, CC midfielder Sue Obermiller broke down the left flank and played a ball into the goal mouth. The ball was then deflected to Rice who was standing seven yards out from goal. Her contested shot went over the top of the net.
Rice then got on the end of a Johnson pass at the 54:51 mark in the 6-yard area and slotted the ball into the net but the associate referee correctly flagged Rice for being in an offside position.
The Cobber attack had now found a way into the Macalester backline. In a similar fashion to their first-round win over Dubuque, the Cobbers started to wear down the Scot midfield which led to odd-man advantages in the final third.
Concordia finally got on the board in the 69th minute when reserve midfielder Killashandra Link picked the perfect opportunity to score the biggest goal of her young college career. The ball got played wide on the right wing, CC freshman center mid Emily Jordan ran hard to track the ball down and then hit a cross towards the net as she was in full sprint and headed away from the goal. Her service found Johnson who was making a near-post run at the six-yard box. Johnson then flicked the ball with her head into the middle of the goal area where Link ran onto it and buried it with the outside of her right foot. It was Link's third goal of the year.
The 1-0 lead would last for 12 minutes. Macalester picked up their offensive pressure and CC was content to make the Scots work for any open ball around the penalty area. After knocking the ball up the field and having one of the Macalester backs clear the ball out of bounds on the right wing, Rice quickly collected the ball and threw it in to Johnson who was sprinting past the Scot defense. Johnson neatly slotted the ball over the on-rushing Macalester keeper and CC was staked to what seemed like an insurmountable lead.
Playing more defensively, the Cobbers found themselves defending a free kick from 35 yards out. The Scot crossing attempt on the dead ball bounced behind the CC defensive line and was knocked around the penalty area by several players. The ball finally settled on to a foot of a Cobber defender who tried to clear the ball but it wound up ricocheting off the shin of Macalester's Jordan Eckstein and into the CC net. The goal at 87:44 gave life to the Scots who were desperately trying to pull off the two-goal comeback.
That comeback try lasted officially :34 seconds before Abby Habein's dead ball crossing attempt snuck behind the Scot keeper and gave Concordia the two-goal lead again at 3-1 with only 1:42 to play.
For the game, Concordia was outshot 20-12 with most of the Macalester attempts coming from outside of 20 yards. The Scots also held a 9-3 edge in shots on goal. The Cobbers had most of their attacks stall inside the penalty area before a shot could be taken.
CC goalie Ali Nelson made eight saves to earn her 17th win of the year. She was solid throughout the entire 90 minutes and her command of the penalty area cut down on any chances that the speedy Bardwell had to turn the ball towards goal on many of the through balls that were sent her way. As well as Nelson played, the entire Concordia backline of Mikenna Maroney, Erika Swenson, Kelsey Swagger and Nikole Koehn played at an even higher level. The continually stepped up to neutralize the Macalester offense and didn't allow Bardwell any open chances.
The end of the game was a passing of the torch among MIAC coaches. The game was the last for longtime Macalester head coach John Leaney who is retiring from coaching. Leaney led the Scots to eight MIAC championships and the NCAA Title in 1998. He finished his illustrious career with 299 career wins for the women's team. He was the Dean of the women's coaches in the MIAC and he will be sorely missed by the coaches and players around the league. The torch has now been passed to Cobber head coach Dan Weiler who has more MIAC titles (3) since 1998 than any other coach in the league and has posted a 52-8-6 conference record in the past six seasons.
The Cobbers will play at Trinity University in san Antonio, Tex. in the Sweet 16. Concordia's opponent Lynchburg finished third in the Old Dominion Atlhetic Conference regular seasonbehind Virginia Wesleyan and Washington & Lee and then lost to Washington & Lee in the conference semifinals. The Hornets avenged that loss by beating Washington & Lee 2-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. Lynchburg will be making their third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. The Hornets downed Catholic University 5-1 in the opening round of the national playoffs. Lynchburg is currently 16-3-3 and has won nine of their last 10 games.