Crusaders Headed to NCAA Tournament Semifinals
ST. LOUIS – Behind a stellar effort from senior goalkeeper Maggie Donnellan and a clutch, game-tying goal by freshman midfielder Claire Quinn, the Capital University women's soccer team will make its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament semifinals after defeating top-ranked Washington (Mo.) on penalty kicks in an NCAA sectional final Sunday at Washington University.
After the game ended in a 1-1 tie following 90 minutes of regulation and two overtimes, the Crusaders (19-4-2 overall) won 3-2 on penalty kicks to advance to become one of four teams in the nation still playing.
"We feel like on any given day, if we play and fight hard enough, and we're dedicated to do it as a team, we can be successful," Capital coach Chris Kouns said. "We know player for player, Washington is better, and if we played them 10 times, they might beat us nine times.
"We wanted to break up the game into 10-minute segments … if we could continue to play that way, the pressure would turn to Washington. For us, it was a matter of sticking to the game plan and getting things done, and we did."
Capital will take on No. 3 William Smith (N.Y.) quarterfinal match on Friday, Dec. 6, at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas.
The Crusaders made three of their four penalty kicks, while Donnellan (Cincinnati, Ohio) saved the Bears' first two attempts. After giving Capital a 3-2 lead in the session with her own PK conversion, Donnellan stopped Washington's final attempt, sending the Crusaders and their supporters in attendance into frenzy.
"Maggie was absolutely amazing," Kouns said. "For three years, her development working with goalkeeper coach Andrea Kaminski has been absolutely terrific. We didn't originally have her scheduled to take a PK if we got there, but with the way she was playing, there's no doubt we wanted her out there. And she ended up winning it."
The Bears (20-1-1) tallied the match's first goal in the sixth minute off a loose ball in the box as the shot skimmed off of the bottom of the crossbar and over the goal line. It was the first goal surrendered by the Crusaders in the flow of play during the postseason. Capital last allowed a non-penalty kick goal on Oct. 30 at Muskingum.
Trailing 1-0 at the half, the Crusaders came out aggressively in the second, posting three corner kicks in the first 15 minutes of the period.
Capital's strong offensive push paid off in the 67th minute, Quinn took a free kick and placed it just inside the far post off a set piece. Quinn's second goal of the year leveled the match.
"About 20 minutes into the second half, we decided to push forward, and we were fortunate enough to put Washington on its heels for about five minutes," Kouns said. "Claire's strike was absolutely beautiful."
Donnellan came up with three huge saves in the final 15 minutes of regulation to help preserve the tie. She finished with a career-high 18 saves as the Crusaders were outshot 38-8 in the contest. Capital outshot Washington 3-1 in the two overtimes combined.
The Crusaders, unranked entering postseason play, knocked off three straight ranked opponents en route to the national semifinals.
Check back early this week for more coverage on Capital's dream postseason run and NCAA Tournament semifinal berth.