ROCK HILL, S.C. – The No. 4 Winthrop women’s soccer team fell 5-4 in penalty kicks to No. 1 Radford in Friday’s semi-final match of the 2013 Big South Conference Tournament presented by Musco Lighting.
Winthrop and Radford each converted their first two penalty kicks; Taylor Walton and Kelly Clark shot first for Winthrop while Radford’s Priestley and Sahar Aflaki put their shots away. Krystyna Freda took the third kick for Winthrop and miss wide while Kara Wade put another one away for the Highlanders. The final two kickers for each team, Ashley Herndon and Okina Crawley for Winthrop and Melanie Priestley and Rachel Conway for Radford, made their shots.
Winthrop ends the year with an 11-5-3 record while Radford advances to Sunday’s championship match with a 15-2-2 record.
Winthrop had a chance to go up, despite Radford dominating possession in the first half, when senior Kelly Clark took a low, hard shot forcing Radford goalkeeper Che’ Brown to make a diving save. Radford continued to have most of the ball possession and was finally rewarded in the 24th minute by a half volley goal from sophomore Sallie Dillinger. The goal was Dillinger’s first collegiate goal and was set up by freshman Melanie Priestley who dribbled down the sideline and found Sahar Aflaki who flicked the ball onto Dillinger. At the end of the first half, Radford outshot Winthrop 9-6. Both Brown and Winthrop goalkeeper had two saves in the half.
Radford continued to put the pressure on Winthrop’s defense but still couldn’t get any dangerous looks. Winthrop started to pick up the pace 15 minutes into the second half with three shots and two corner kicks but couldn’t put any away. Winthrop escaped a close call in the minute, when a free kick when freshman Macey Bosley fouled Melanie Priestley as it initially looked to be inside the box but the referee placed the ball just outside and the Winthrop defense was able to clear. Off the clear, Winthrop;s Krystyna Freda dribbled down and passed the ball off to sophomore Eden Ralph who crossed the ball into the box. Sophomore Taylor Coleman managed to get a head to the ball but it was placed just over the crossbar.
Winthrop finally tied it up in the 84th minute when senior Anna Sammons put away a header off a corner kick from Freda. Sammons got her head to the ball and it was almost cleared off the line, but it had just enough height on it to go in. The last five minutes of regulation were a battle as both teams tried to find a game- winner but the time on the clock ran out. The second finished with Radford having the slight edge in shots 10-9 and corner kicks 6-4.
Winthrop carried the momentum into the first overtime period, getting two shots, put couldn’t put either away and the game went into the second overtime period.
The Lady Eagles almost found the golden goal in the 103rd minute when there was a scramble in the box after a Freda corner kick but no one could get a foot on it and it went out of bounds. Radford got shots off as well but none really tested Henderson.
Brown finished the game with seven saves on the night, while Henderson earned four.
Winthrop Head Coach Spencer Smith said he was extremely proud of his team. “I am proud of our team and out effort. As good as it is to win this way it’s just as bad to lose this way but I am extremely proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished this year.”