Westminster Women's Soccer Claims SLIAC Title; Advances to NCAA Tournament

Westminster Women's Soccer Claims SLIAC Title; Advances to NCAA Tournament

FULTON, Mo. - Westminster women's soccer defeated Greenville 3-2 in double overtime to claim its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament title since 2015, giving the team an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. 

"I can't begin to explain how proud I am of this team. I'm very proud of the team's collective performance and their accomplishments thus far," said Westminster Head Coach Wendy Sanchez, earning the title and Tournament bid in her first season as a Head Coach. "Their ambition to push themselves to their full potential has been amazing to see, and tonight was a reflection of that."

The first half belonged to the Blue Jay offense, with the first goal coming in the 16th minute from Kate Ponder, heading the ball in on a corner kick from Katherine Hammond

The second goal for the Blue Jays came in the 34th minute from Gracie Koonce, who found the back of the net from 20 yards out on a low shot to the far post. Natalie Schulte and Ponder both assisted on the play. 

Westminster went into the half feeling good about its chances, but the Panthers came out in the second half making it clear that the match was not yet over. 

After two fouls in the box from the Panthers, both Hammond and Koonce were given penalty kicks in the box that were stopped by the Greenville keeper to preserve the 2-0 deficit. 

From there, the Panthers scored two goals on corner kick in the 80th and 86th minute to send the match into overtime. 

"After Greenville tied it up, our seniors' experience to stay composed guided the team to stay motivated and focused," said Sanchez. "Playing at that stage with such intensity, the experience is crucial in those final moments."

Both teams saw ample opportunity in the first overtime, with Westminster sending a shot off the crossbar which just missed being the game-winning goal. It wasn't until the second overtime period, with 1:18 left to play before moving the game to penalty kicks, that Ponder scored her second goal of the game to win it for the Blue Jays. She followed a rebound on shots from Schulte and Koonce to tap the ball in and send Westminster to the NCAA Tournament and claim the SLIAC Title.

Sarah Cradick played all 90 minutes in goal and made three saves. The Panthers outshot the Blue Jays 21-17. 

Koonce, Schulte, Alaina Allsbury, and Ponder were named to the All-Tournament team with Ponder being named the Tournament Most Valuable Player. 

Westminster will travel to Washington University in St. Louis Saturday, Nov. 10 for a 5 p.m. kickoff.