08 Nov Hardin-Simmons women’s soccer beats UMHB in penalties for ASC title
Another season, another American Southwest Conference tournament championship for the Hardin-Simmons women’s soccer team.
It took penalty kicks for the Cowgirls to secure their 19th consecutive conference tournament title, but they came through 3-1 after playing to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtimes at the HSU Soccer Complex.
This year’s team saved some of its best soccer for when it mattered most.
“This team grew as we went along,” HSU coach Marcus Wood said. “We were not very good at the beginning and then I think some of our best soccer was played this week. We played really great against UT Dallas and McMurry. Even (Sunday), it’s just the o]We needed the whole season. Really proud of the senior leadership and how far they’ve taken us. I feel like God wrote the story and just get to live it and pretty special to live the story.”
In PKs, HSU keeper Kendall Dowling made her presence known. The Cru converted their first attempt, but Dowling made a save on the second try, the third try went off the crossbar and Dowling came through on the fourth. When Aurora Arevalo made her spot kick, there was no fifth try from UMHB.
“Just put everything I had in it, get a good result for my team, for our seniors,” Dowling said. “… Every one that you save, pushes you to get the next one. It gave me that extra edge and compete.”
Dowling wasn’t the starter to begin the season, but she’s stepped into the role and came though in HSU’s biggest matches so far this year.
“We’ve been very pleased to have amazing goalkeepers for a long, long time,” Wood said. “Kayla Gable passed the torch, Haley Foley had her appendix out. Kendall didn’t know she was going to be called on. And way to step up when she got her moment. A shutout all through the tournament, penalty shootout saves, so just an awesome story that Kendall wrote.”
During 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes worth of overtime, the Cowgirls pelted the UMHB goal with 21 shots, 11 on target. The Cru only had three shots on goal, but all three were quality scoring chances, mostly on the counterattack.
“Their counter-punch is hyper dangerous,” Wood said. “And we weren’t creating many great chances, maybe two or three great chances in the game. So, you thought it was going to take something really special, a moment of magic. It kind of felt destined for penalties. It felt like the two teams were so organized defensively that there wasn’t a lot of chances.”
Once in penalty kicks, things are even more out of a coach’s hands. With the expectation of playing good teams in big games, PKs are always a possibility, so HSU is sure to put in plenty of work to be ready when they happen.
“We practice them a lot, we didn’t do great,” Wood said. “But the challenge is managing pressure, it is a huge mental challenge. Penalty kicks are probably 95 percent mental. Hopefully we’re used to them and hopefully we can win more penalty shootouts and get to keep going.”
When it comes to the HSU women’s soccer team’s streak, there is pressure to keep it going. That isn’t something that weighs on the Cowgirls, it’s something they embrace and use as motivation.
“That is a big thing that we say, we even said it before PKs, ‘Pressure is a privilege,'” Dowling said. “It’s a privilege to be here and play another day and pressure is a part of that. Pressure’s a part of competing.”
Madelyn Dowell got the penalty shootout started, converting her shot, and UMHB matched the effort. Both teams had their second round of shots saved. Alexis Sciano made her shot and a miss from the Cru gave HSU a 2-1 lead. Neither teams made their fourth-round shots, but Arevalo stepped up and delivered the game-winner.
“It was a great feeling,” Dowling said. “We knew we were coming out and winning. We’re Cowgirls, we’ve got to win. I’m glad we got the 19th and excited I got to do it with all of them, my best friends.”
HSU beat UT Dallas in the spring’s championship game, but met UMHB in the previous three championship games before this year’s meeting.
“I want to credit Mary Hardin-Baylor and coach Barry Elkins, they’re awesome,” Wood said. “Four of the last five times we’ve played them in the final and they’ve given us everything we can handle. The margin of victory is tiny, there’s nothing to separate the two teams.”
Aviles, Dowling and Rachel Bean were named to the All-Tournament Team while Dowell was named the Tournament MVP.
The tournament win gives HSU the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The bracket will be released at noon on Monday and Wood thinks he has a good idea of where the Cowgirls will end up. Trinity was No. 1 in Region X and picked up a 5-0 win against No. 2 Southwestern in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship.
“Southwestern beat everybody in Texas, I assume Trinity and Southwestern are in,” Wood said. “I think we’re going to be in Texas and get one of those two, would be my guess.”
When last year’s season was moved from the fall to the spring and shortened, the Cowgirls still won the conference tournament, but there was no national tournament after.
This year, there is.
“It’s such a great experience,” Dowling said. “Last year, we didn’t get to go to NCAA because of COVID, so this is a new experience for our team, we’re pretty young. I’m excited and excited for my seniors to get at least one more game.”
Cowboys fall to Concordia in PKs
While penalties were kind to the Cowgirls, the Cowboys ended up on the wrong side of them in Belton, falling to Concordia in the ASC men’s soccer tournament final after it was tied 1-1 through regulation and two overtimes.
Jaden Barwell gave the HSU men the 1-0 lead in the 24th minute with a heads up play. Jakob Fiol earned the assist as he was taken down, but Barnwell played the advantage and scored.
The lead held through the first half and into the second half before Concordia tied the game in the 66th minute. Neither team could find a game-winner in the final 24 minutes of regulation or 20 minutes of overtime.
Osi Gutierrez, Fiol and Austin Willis made their penalty kick attempts, but it wasn’t enough as the Cowboys fell 4-3 in the shootout.
Wills, Gutierrez and Barnwell were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Jordan Hofeditz covers Abilene high schools and colleges, Big Country schools and other local sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jhofeditz. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
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