By: B.J. Pheasant, Assistant Soccer Coach
(WHITEWATER, Wisc.) – The Thomas More College women's soccer team played the University of Chicago (IL) Maroons in a third round game of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, November 19th and it was a rematch of last year's second round game won by the Saints. This year the University of Chicago returned the favor 3-1 to put their record at 16-3-3 and advance to the next round versus either University Wisconsin-Whitewater (WI) or Pomona-Pitzer College (CA). The Saints suffered their first loss of the season and fall to 22-1-1 overall. This is the second year in a row that the Saints first loss of the season comes in the NCAA tournament on the road.
"I am very proud of how these young women competed today against the tough obstacles they faced today and this season," said TMC head coach Jeff Cummings. "The leadership and hard work by the senior class has raised the level of the Saints soccer program and set an example for future classes on how to prepare and compete at the college level."
It was a freezing overcast 34 degree day with steady 20 mph wind gusting up to 35 mph on Saturday in Wisconsin. The Saints were against the wind in the first half and dominated the first fifteen minutes of the game. The best chance came in the 14th minute when Laura Felix (Burlington, Ky./St. Henry) beat defenders into the right side of the box and played it across the face of goal with the forward crashing back post a fraction too late.
In the 26th minute a deflected shot put the Saints down 0-1. In the 33rd minute Shaye Isaacs (Nicholasville, Ky./West Jessamine) beat two defenders in the box and played the ball to the top of the 18 to no avail. In the 41st minute a 25 yard shot with the wind directly behind it drifted just over the goal keeper for a 2-0 Maroons lead going into halftime.
In the second half Thomas More came out pressing to win and Chicago looked to absorb pressure and run the clock out. After a couple saves by the Maroons goal keeper in the first fifteen minutes of the second half they got a break away in the 60th minute of the game. This led to a brilliant 1v1 save by goal keeper Megan Barton (Florence, Ky./Villa Madonna) but, somehow, after the save a penalty kick was called. The spot kick was converted to extend the advantage to three goals.
The Saints continued to fight with the same indominatable spirit they have all season. In the 65th minute Lauren Rose (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) struck a free kick from 45 yards out that was barely palmed away. In the 73rd minute Erika LaRosa (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) got on the end of a long pass by Samantha Goodwin (Cincinnati, Ohio/Seton) for a breakaway goal to close the gap to 3-1. The short handed Saints continued to press forward as evidenced by an 8-5 lead in shots in the second half, but the clock ticked down on the game with the Saints behind on the scoreboard as time ran out.
The 2017 senior class for the Saints has had a superlative career with an 83-5-5 record and a .919 winning percentage. Several other impressive numbers are that the class has only experienced one loss on their home field in their careers as BB&T Field in Crestview Hills, KY has been a veritable fortress for the Saints. By advancing to the Sweet 16 the seniors have advanced to the Sweet 16 or further every year of their careers. Thomas More College is one of only three teams out of 433 D3 programs to advance to the 3rd round in four consecutive tournaments. This season the TMC defense had the most shut outs in the nation with 19. The Saints defense has been even more impressive with six games in which opposing teams did not even take a shot.