ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – No. 21 Midland University will continue their historic season as they advanced past No. 5 Martin Methodist College in a shootout in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women’s Soccer National Tournament on Tuesday evening. The Warriors and RedHawks played to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes of play and then remained tied after an additional 20 minutes of overtime action, setting up a shootout for the right to advance. Midland will love to see another day as they won the penalty kick shootout by a score of 3-1 over Martin Methodist. They are now one of eight teams remaining at the final site in Orange Beach, Alabama.
This season has been filled with plenty of historic moments. The Lady Warriors won their first NAIA Tournament game nearly two weeks ago, making their first ever final site appearance and they’ll continue their journey with another game on Wednesday.
Going up against one of the most high powered offenses sophomore goalie, Rachel Thigpen had herself a day. In the first half of play she came up with four crucial saves to keep Martin Methodist off the scoreboard. The RedHawks dominated the shot count in the first 45 minutes, with a 10-5 edge over the Warriors as neither squad was able to put a goal up before intermission.
In the second half of play, the scoreless trend continued until the 66th minute when Ashlyn Wiggins found the back of the net to score only the ninth goal on the Lady Warriors this season. It looked as though the Warriors historic season was coming to a close when the clock dipped under ten minutes left. But in the 85th minute Nayeli Rodriguez curled a ball into the box that found a wide open Perez, who took a touch and then rocketed a shot in the bottom left corner of the goal, tying the game at 1-1 and sending it to extra time.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the game shifted to a penalty shootout. Once again it was Thigpen, the Great Plains Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, who stole the show.
Martin Methodist would shoot first and connect on the attempt, while Brittany Llanes misfired on the first attempt for the Lady Warriors. After that the RedHawks were denied the next three rounds as Rachel Thigpen saved all three shot attempts in a row. While she was making saves her teammates were finding the back of the net. Perez and Harlee Zancanelli were both successful on their attempts and with then Marley Farrell sealed the victory as she drilled home the Warriors’ fourth attempt, sending the her team to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 shootout win.
With the victory Midland (14-2-4) has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship and will take on No. 1-ranked Southeastern (19-1-2). The Fire defeated John Brown, 3-0 in the final match of the Round of 16 on Tuesday night. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the Orange Beach Sportsplex on Wednesday, November 28.