Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The Northwest Conference Champion Pacific Lutheran University women's soccer team battled host California Lutheran University to a 1-1 double overtime draw on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, however it was the host Regals who advanced to the Sweet 16 after owning a 5-4 edge in penalty kicks.
PLU (17-3-2) battled California Lutheran (16-3-3) to a scoreless first half with the Regals owning a slim 4-3 edge in shots.
In the 76th minute, the Regals got on the board with Alexandra Albaeck scoring after chipping the ball in while on her back. Two minutes later, Machaela Graddy answered with her most important goal of the season. Graddy's goal tied the game at one, where it stayed through both 10-minute overtimes. Cal Lutheran was able to make all five of their penalty kicks as PLU netted just four, advancing the Regals to the third round where they will face Williams College (Mass.) next weekend.
Natalie Robinson tallied 10 saves over the 110-minute contest while her counterpart, Gabby Flores, notched three saves.
"I'm extremely proud of our team," head coach Seth Spidahl said. "We were playing the best team out of the Southern California area on their home field in a great college soccer environment. I couldn't be more proud of the character we showed. I'm really proud of how they responded to adversity. Penalty kicks is a tough way to lose. The team was gutted because they put a lot into it, and we fell a little short."
The game, which officially counts as a tie per NCAA rules, closes a stellar career for the Lute seniors. Over the past four seasons the 2017 seniors have amassed an impressive 62-14-9 record, winning two NWC titles and making two trips to the NCAA Tournament.
"I also want to say thank you to the seniors," Spidahl said. "They've had an incredible career here, and I just want to say thank you to them for all their service, work, passion and dedication to the program. This program continues to improve every year. This year we took another step. Overall it was a great season."