FORT WORTH, Texas -- Junior Kristen Howell netted a pair of second-half goals just four minutes apart, and the No. 24 and fourth-seeded John Brown University women's soccer team avenged their earlier loss in the regular season with a 3-1 win over No. 21 and top-seeded Texas Wesleyan on Monday evening at Martin Field in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.
With the victory, the Golden Eagles (15-3-1) advance to face Science and Arts (Okla.) on Thursday night at Drover Pitch in the championship match. JBU will make its sixth-straight appearance in the finals, dating back to 2013, and will face the Drovers for the fourth-consecutive season. The championship match is set to kick off at 7 p.m. in Chickasha, Okla.
"I was proud of our girls tonight and the way they fought," head coach Kathleen Paulsen said. "To be down a goal at halftime and remain composed enough to execute our game plan was encouraging to see. We're looking forward to a good match against a good USAO side on Thursday."
Similar to what happened back on Oct. 25 at Alumni Field, the Rams (13-4-1) scored first. But this time, John Brown held the answer -- and it was in the form of a trio of second-half goals.
Drea Molina put the hosts up 1-0 just 28 seconds before halftime by chipping a nine-yard shot over sophomore Caitlyn Logan, eerily reminding John Brown of its 1-0 loss to Texas Wesleyan, where the Rams scored on their only shot on goal and preserved the victory late.
With major post-tournament hopes riding on the line, senior Jastin Redman jump-started the comeback bid just shy of 10 minutes into the second half.
In the 55th minute, senior Melody Hagen sent a ball to sophomore Sienna Nealon up the left wing. Nealon served a pass into the box that Redman was able to slide-kick past both hands and legs of Ram keeper Lauren Bond to tie the score at one apiece.
Armed with confidence, the Golden Eagles racked up an 11-6 shooting advantage in the second half -- and it finally paid off in a flurry of strikes from Howell.
After an odd play set up John Brown with a corner kick opportunity, senior Aspen Carpenter served in her ninth assist of the season from the corner that found Howell's head in the middle of the box. From just six yards out, Howell beat Bond for her sixth of the season in the 65th minute.
Just four minutes later, Howell struck again for her seventh, and first game-winner of the year. Off a shanked clearing attempt in the Texas Wesleyan box, Howell pounced on the opportunity by ripping a 13-yard strike low to the far right side of the goal.
With its season on the line, the hosts fired four shots on goal over the final 21 minutes, to which Logan had an answer each time. She finished the match with five saves as JBU out-shot the Rams 17-10 to continue its impressive SAC tournament streak.
Bond was tagged with the loss for Texas Wesleyan, saving three of John Brown's six attempts on target in the second half. Christy Zwart made all three saves asked of her in the first half before giving way to Bond at the intermission.Sports on 11/07/2018
Print Headline: Women's soccer advances to SAC finals