Above photo provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
RICHARDSON, Texas- History repeated itself on Thursday night, as UT Dallas and UMHB met in the semifinals of the ASC women’s soccer tournament.
Only this time, it was UTD that came out on top, winning 4-3 on placekicks with the score tied at one.
The Comets will now face Hardin-Simmons in the conference championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT in Richardson. HSU has won the ASC title in 17 straight seasons.
The contest was a rematch of the 2019 ASC Tournament semifinal and was similar in nearly every way, including the fact that it was decided on placekicks. The only difference was that UTD, and not UMHB, emerged with the victory.
After a stalemate in overtime with the score at 1-1, the two teams headed into placekicks, fully aware that the results of the next several shots would decide the fate of their seasons.
UMHB goalkeeper Emmy McMaude tallied a save on UTD’s first placekick attempt, and Crusaders forward Emily Blaettner gave the Cru an early 1-0 advantage after netting a low left shot. The Comets countered with one of their own and a shot from UMHB midfielder Kristen Burdick was saved by UTD goalkeeper Megan Hannah to keep the placekicks score at 1-1.
Several shots later, the score remained tied, this time at three apiece before UTD forward Meghan Hollmann found the back of the net. UMHB forward Maria Rico, the Cru’s leading scorer entering the contest, had a chance to knot the score at four, but her shot was off to the right as Hannah deflected it, sealing UTD’s victory.
UTD, elated after converting four of its six opportunities in the shootout, sprinted towards Hannah as Rico buried her face in her hands. It was a tough pill to swallow after having fought for 110 minutes and a placekick shootout.
What kept UMHB in the match up until the end was its relentless defense. The Crusaders contested each UTD possession and kept the Comets out of scoring range for the vast majority of the match. That was especially evident in the second half, as the Cru entered the final 45 minutes of regulation with a fire and intensity on the defensive end.
That hard-nosed defense translated into offensive opportunities, though the Cru only managed to cash in on one of those. UMHB outshot UTD 27-6 during regulation, and the Crusader defense allowed just two shots from the Comets in the second half.
As the match went into overtime, and gave way to 20 minutes of scoreless soccer, the defense continued to apply pressure to UTD’s offensive attack. One play that does not show up on the box score but kept UMHB in the fight came in the second overtime period, when McMaude somehow deflected a hard short-range shot from UTD and the Crusaders managed to clear it. The Comets failed to get another opportunity from point-blank range as the second overtime drew to a close.
Though the UMHB defense was phenomenal throughout the course of the game, it was UTD that scored first and took an early 1-0 advantage.
The Comets got on the board first, scoring with less than a minute before halftime. Comets forward Sierra Foster took a pass from forward Jocelyn Boyle, and fired a shot to the low center of the goal. It got past McMaude and into the net, putting UTD in front 1-0.
However, UMHB countered as defender Zoe Elledge’s corner kick got the ball to Burdick, who fired a shot just inside the top left corner of the frame in the 67th minute. That tied the score at 1-1 until the end of regulation, when the contest was pushed into overtime, and ultimately placekicks.
That is not to say there were not other scoring opportunities in the second half, however, as was represented by the shooting numbers. The Cru had 15 shots in the final 45 minutes of regulation, six of those on goal.
Rico had a good look in the 83rd minute just in front of the goal, but her shot sailed high and out of play. Then, with under 35 seconds left in regulation a shot from midfielder Grace Greenly was easily gathered by Hannah. An offsides call wiped away another good opportunity from short range for the Cru with just eight seconds left.
A large part of UMHB’s offensive challenges was due to the stellar play of Hannah, who tallied nine saves in the contest. The Cru never stopped firing, but Hannah was on her toes and deflected several well-placed shots, the most notable coming on Rico’s placekick to end the match.
The loss ends UMHB’s spring season, and the Cru finished with a record of 7-1-1.