CHICKASHA, Okla. – It was a matchup of defense versus offense on a chilly night at Hampton Field as No. 21 Midland University took on (RV) University of Science and Arts on Saturday evening. The Warriors came in as one of the top defensive units while the Drovers countered with one of the best offenses. As the old cliché goes ‘defense wins championships’, it was the Warriors who came away with the win 1-0. They’ll advance to Orange Beach, Alabama and the final site of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship.
During the first half of play the Drovers controlled the ball for the most part, challenging the Warriors defense with three shots. One on attack by the Drovers, they nearly put in a shot on a rebound attempt after a save by Rachel Thigpen but Marley Farrell closed the gap at the last second to send the ball out of play. Midland had a few chances of their own during the half, but failed to register a shot.
In the second, Midland worked hard early to get a few chances. Within the first six minutes they earned a corner kick and a chance at a set piece. They tried a little trickery with a quick kick that USAO played out the back line setting up a second chance.
With the second corner kick it was Rachel Smith who sent the ball into the box off her left foot. The ball came down to the feet of Bailey Locano and after being knocked around by several Drovers as well as Hannah Stewart and Brittany Lllanes, it was Locano sliding in to push the ball to the back of the net.
Midland pulled back into the defensive third after that and thwarted every attack that came there way after that. USAO tried their best to get the equalizer, putting up six shots over the final 38 minutes. Each time it was the Warriors defense coming up big. USAO outshot Midland 15-3 on the night but only 5 of those shots were on target and Thigpen secured the ball each time.
“It was a total team effort tonight in getting this win,” head coach Greg Jarosik said afterwards. “Our defense was solid all night taking away their looks. USAO is a top ten scoring team and to keep them off the board was a testament to how good our defense played.”
“On our goal, Rachel (Smith) played a great ball into the box and after it came off the keeper Bailey, Hannah and Brittany were aggressive and converged on the ball. Somehow we got a foot on the ball and got it into the net. After that we ‘parked the bus’ back on the defense and were able to come away with the win.”
The shutout victory marked the 14th game of the season in which they haven’t allowed a goal, which is a new school record.
Midland (14-2-3) will travel to Orange Beach, Alabama to face No. 3 Martin Methodist (19-1-1) who defeated LSU-Shreveport 9-1 in their opening round game. The Warriors and RedHawks are scheduled to take the pitch at the Orange Beach SportsPlex at 4:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, November 26th.