ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – No. 21 Midland University saw their historic season come to a close in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship with a 3-1 loss the No. 1-ranked Southeastern in Orange Beach, Alabama.
The Warriors finish the season with a record of 14-3-4, were conference runners-up, and won their first two games in the NAIA postseason tournament. Southeastern will advance to the semifinal round for the first time in school history and will take on #2 William Carey University.
The Warriors fought hard in the first 45 minutes, holding the NAIA’s all-time leader goal scorer, Uchenna Kanu, as well as the rest of the Fire to a scoreless first half. The two teams went into the break scoreless. Goalie Rachel Thigpen had 12 saves going into the intermission.
Coming out of the break, Kanu found the back of the net two times less than a minute into the second half, putting the Lady Warriors in a 2-0 hole with 44 minutes left in the match. She would complete her hat-trick in the 77th minute to put the Fire up 3-0, all but clinching their ticket to the semifinal round.
The Warriors would fight back to get on the board in the 82nd when senior Rachel Smith crossed a corner kick into the box, and freshman Bailey Locano scored to put the Warriors on the board.
This year the Lady Warriors’ defense, led by sophomore Rachel Thigpen in net, finished the season with only 12 goals allowed, only allowing multiple goals in their first and last games of the year, with a school-record 14 shut outs in between.
Offensively Midland was led by Nayeli Rodriguez and PT Perez, who finished with 31 goals on the year – 16 by Rodriguez, and 15 by Perez.
The Warriors will graduate just one senior in Rachel Smith this season. She was a key piece for Midland playing both in the defensive backline as well as up front on the attack. Head coach Greg Jarosik spoke about her time as a Warrior, “I want to thank Rachel for her four years here at Midland. She was such a big piece for our team throughout her career and will be sorely missed on the playing field next year.”