FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
MANKATO, Minn. – The 24th-ranked Fort Hays State women’s soccer team advanced to the Central Regional Final (round of 16) of the NCAA Tournament after a nail-biting shootout victory over 15th-ranked Minnesota State on Sunday (Nov. 13). The game officially goes down as a 2-2 draw, but the shootout determined the advancing team. FHSU took the shootout 4-2 and is now 15-4-3 overall, while Minnesota State ends its season at 16-3-3 overall.Fort Hays State will now travel to the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan for the Central Regional Final against the team it tied for the MIAA Regular Season Championship, Central Missouri, on Friday (Nov. 18). The Jennies advanced to the regional final with a 2-1 win over MIAA foe Central Oklahoma on Sunday. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the Midwest Regional Final between Grand Valley State and Truman. The Super Regional Final is slated for Sunday (Nov. 20)
The Mavericks struck first when Dana Savino found the back of the net in the 65th minute. After earning a corner kick, the Mavericks sent a ball into the box that bounced around for quite some time, then Savino made a run that put her in position to bounce the ball off of her chest across the line.Less than a minute later Regan Lawler tied the game when she scored her first goal of the season. From midfield, Lawler launched a missile towards the Maverick goal just above the keeper’s reach, tipping off the gloves and into the goal. The shot lit a fire in the Tigers as they played the rest of the second half with a new life and sense of urgency.
Silvana Romero put the Tigers into the lead for the first time just under five minutes later. Dani Harris ripped a shot from 25 yards out that the Mavericks goalkeeper was able to deflect up to the crossbar but she fell to the ground doing so. Romero followed the shot and buried the rebound in the wide open net.
Later in the half, two players collided causing a stoppage in play. This stoppage may have hurt the Tigers momentum as the Mavericks were able to gather themselves during the stoppage of play. Just moments later, Savino struck once more to even the score.
At the end of 90 minutes, neither team was able to get the go-ahead goal, and the fans were treated to free soccer. In the first 10-minute overtime, the Mavericks threw everything they could at the Tigers but came up empty. The second 10-minute overtime was much of the same as the Tigers showed their “bend, don’t break” mentality, but held on forcing the draw and the shootout.
In the shootout the Tigers went first with Silvana Romero at the line, but unfortunately she missed. After the first Maverick shooter found the back of the net the Tigers found themselves trailing 1-0.
Next up for the Tigers was Dani Harris who evened the score at 1-1. Then Tiger goalkeeper Abbie Flax changed the complexion of the shootout by diving and getting her fingertips on the second MSU shot, deflecting the ball just outside the post.
Hannah Smith put the Tigers in the lead for the first time as she completely fooled the Mavericks keeper. But MSU responded to make it a 2-2 tie after three shootout rounds.
Darby Hirsch gave FHSU the edge once more as she found the net on her try. With the fourth Maverick shooter at the line, Abbie Flax once again made an outstanding diving save setting the Tigers up for the shootout-winning opportunity.
For the second time in four matches, Thalya Dwyer lifted the Tigers to a shootout victory and the round of 16 in the tournament. She was calm and collected as she approached the ball and buried it easily to send the Tigers to the Central Regional Final. Dwyer had the shootout winner in a first-round tie with Missouri Western in the MIAA Tournament.
In addition to the two shootout saves, Flax made four big saves throughout the course of the match and now sits at 12-4-3 this season.
Game time of the match with Central Missouri in Allendale, Mich. on Friday (Nov. 18) will be announced when made available by Grand Valley State.