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Lander falls in PKs at NCAA Tournament to end historic season

Lander falls in PKs at NCAA Tournament to end historic season

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. –  The third-seeded Lander women's soccer team rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit before falling to sixth-seeded Lincoln Memorial in penalty kicks at the NCAA Southeast Regional quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Carson-Newman University. 

Lander (12-2-3) ends the season with its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, while the Railsplitters (14-4-1) advance to the regional semifinals on Sunday night. 

Lincoln Memorial opened the scoring in the 19th minute and appeared to net an insurance goal at the 65:03 mark, putting the Bearcats down 2-0 with less than 25 minutes to go. 

However, Lander answered three minutes later when Juliette Vidal converted a penalty kick to pull the Bearcats within a goal. Trailing by one with less than 10 minutes remaining, Lander struck again when Vidal left a pass in the box for Kelcie Fisher, who found the back of the net to even the score at 2-2. 

Both defenses held through two overtime sessions as Sarah Owen made a pair of saves for the Bearcats in the second overtime period to keep LMU off the board and send the match to penalty kicks. 

After both teams made their first kicks, Lander appeared to grab momentum when Owen saved a shot from Fabienne Loetscher. However, officials ruled Owen had left the line early and awarded Loetscher another opportunity, which put the Railsplitters back ahead 2-1. 

The next four attempts for both teams were made and Chloe Le Franc appeared to have netted the fifth consecutive shot to tie the score at 4-4, but her attempt was waved off when officials ruled she had begun her kick before the whistle. Given a second chance, LMU goalkeeper Ann-Marie O'Connell made the first official save of PKs, giving Lincoln Memorial a chance to win the match. Amanda Perez converted her ensuing shot to send the Railsplitters to the semifinals. 

Lander is slated to return every player that recorded a goal, an assist or a save during the 2018 season. 74 of the Bearcats' 94 points during the year were registered by underclassmen.