FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
MANKATO, Minn. – The 24th-ranked Fort Hays State women’s soccer team picked up their first NCAA Tournament win in program history on Friday (Nov. 11). With the 3-1 win over Harding, the Tigers set a new single-season school record for wins. The Tigers are now 15-4-2 on the season, while the Lady Bisons end their season 11-7-2 overall.
Hannah Smith put the Tigers on the board first thanks to a beautifully placed corner kick from Darby Hirsch. Smith outjumped a defender to place a header in the net. It was the first NCAA Tournament goal scored in the program’s history, since FHSU was shutout in their only other appearance in 2012.
Early in the second half, Thalya Dwyer extended the Tiger lead to 2-0 with her eighth goal of the season in the 52nd minute. Regan Lawler sent a long ball down the middle of the field that Dani Harris ran down. Harris sent a slip pass to the trailing Dwyer who faced a one-on-one opportunity with the Harding keeper. She made the most of it and buried the ball with a swift right foot.
Harding did not go down without a fight, cutting the FHSU lead in half in the 75th minute. Off of a corner kick, the Lady Bisons managed a shot that Tiger goalkeeper Abbie Flax was able to save diving to her left. However, McKenna Smith was there for the rebound off Flax to put the pressure on in the final 15 minutes.
But the pressure went away in the 82nd minute when Thalya Dwyer netted her second goal of the match and ninth of the season. Kelsey Steffens sent the ball into the box on a corner kick. Streaking to the far post, Dwyer managed to get her left leg on the ball and it trickled across the line pushing the Tiger lead back to two. Dwyer nearly put together a hat trick a few minutes later, but had a shot go off the post.
That was all the Tigers needed as the defense shut down the Lady Bisons the remainder of the game. FHSU outshot Harding 17-9, but had a slim 6-5 advantage in shots on goal.
Abbie Flax made four saves in goal and moved to 13-4-2 on the year, which ties her for most wins in a regular season at FHSU, as well as most career wins with 18.
The No. 3 seeded Tigers continue their quest for a Regional Championship on Sunday (Nov. 13) when the face the host team No. 2 seed Minnesota State at 1 pm in the regional semifinal.