The Lady Crusaders’ tournament run ended on Friday afternoon in a 5-3 penalty kick shootout against Southwestern University. It was a hard-fought match in all respects, with neither team able to capitalize on their multiple scoring opportunities. Although Southwestern would eventually pull ahead in shot count, the Crusaders kept it fairly close in regulation, with 12 shots to Southwestern’s 26. The University of Dallas dominated on the attack for significant portions of the game, and sophomore goalkeeper Elena Naccari was in good form, making 13 saves over the course of the match. Even the two overtime periods were closer than the numbers indicate.
Neither team wanted a shootout, so both teams fought for a last-minute victory, but it was not to be. One by one, players stepped up to the box to face the goalies and take their shots. There were no saves. UD’s fourth shot went wide, Southwestern’s fifth found the back of the net and the match was over.
“Friday was a challenging game,” sophomore defender Sydney Stirling said. “Mentally we had to push through double overtime and PK’s. It was a very close game. I will never forget it for the rest of my life, and I am so proud of every single member of the team for the heart they put on that field. Friday proved that the better team doesn’t always win, especially in soccer. Our season came with many obstacles, which we will learn from and move forward with, working for a stronger team next fall.”
The Lady Crusaders faced a long, rough rollercoaster of a season. Despite their record (6-13-2 overall; 4-7-1 in conference), they ended their regular season on two solid victories over Sul Ross State University and Austin College, and went into the tournament with confidence. The players – especially the seniors – reflected on their accomplishments with pride.
“After four years, I can’t believe it’s over,” senior defender Nicolette Perez said. “I’ve never been so proud and blessed to have played next to such amazing, phenomenal women who love the sport as much as I do and were willing to fight and leave their all on the field for each other. I love them all so much and I will miss them more than I can express.”
Both Stirling and Perez looked forward to the coming seasons, expressing their hopes for the future team. Although Perez and her fellow seniors will not be there to witness it, they have left a legacy that will be remembered and carried on for years.
Head coach Angelina Pane will likely continue her trend of recruiting a large, talented freshman class. Her first crop of recruits will step into new leading roles as upperclassmen, while the new members will compete fiercely to earn their place on what will surely be a great team in the coming seasons. Talent and passion will pay off. Great things are in store for University of Dallas Women’s Soccer.