ANKENY, Iowa—With a trip to the NCCAA Division II women's national semifinals on the line, it all came down to a shootout. The chance to make school history, after 110 minutes and two overtimes of scoreless soccer, all came down to five shots.
Players from both teams gathered at midfield, arms locked, as each team sent five players to take their shots. The team to make the most out of five would win. As each Providence Pilot approached the Faith goal, with the season on the line, and all eyes on her, goalkeeper Aubrey Smith smiled.
"I was pretty nervous," said Smith. "We met this morning as a team and just tried to keep the focus on Christ. We sang a few songs about how it's not us, but Christ through us, so I just smiled and remembered those words and that it didn't matter what happened, because God knew the results."
Providentially, Coach Barron's squad practiced shootouts this week and talked about how important it was to be confident in a shootout situation. Coach Barron took notes about which players might be used if needed. One other caveat that should be noted: Providence's goalkeeper was named the Regional Goalkeeper of the Year during the regional awards banquet last night.
With hundreds of fans and most of the student body in attendance, Eagle Nation gathered to the north end of the field, as the tense moments unfolded.
Providence sent its first player to battle and quickly took a 1-0 lead. Abby Zollinger calmly stepped in for Faith's first shot and answered. The score was 1-1.
Providence sent its second player to the net and rang-up another point. Allison Yuan approached the net for the Eagles and scored, and it was tied at two.
The third shot for Providence went through, and the pressure mounted for the Eagles as freshman Abigail Speichinger, the only freshman to shoot, stepped in and tied it once again, 3-3.
Providence's fourth shot was the game-changer. As the kick bounced off the goal post, a large roar erupted from the raucous crowd. Molleigh Adams-Freund kept the advantage on Faith's side with another goal, and it was 4-3, Eagles, with just one shot remaining for both teams.
After Providence made their final shot, it all came down to Lyndi Shepard—the all-time leading scorer for the Eagles, with no shot bigger than this one. With a trip to the women's soccer final four on the line, there was no doubt Lyndi would make it.
"I really wasn't nervous, because I knew we would either tie, or move on," said Shepard. "I felt like I had the easiest shot of the shooters."
As Shepard's shot screamed through the net, jubilant Eagles fans and players stormed the field, and chants of "Eagle Nation" rang out across campus.
After the game, many of the players mentioned how focused they were—not on winning, but honoring Christ, and making sure the focus was not on them.
"We spent the morning at coach's house and we spent time sharing thoughts, praying, and singing together," said Shepard. "We just focused on what really matters."
The Eagles will make the trip to Kissimmee, Florida, in two weeks, with the chance to do something no Eagles' team has ever done—win a national championship.
After the game, Eagles super-fan and President, Dr. Jim Tillotson, gave his thoughts about the historic win:
"I was extremely nervous. Especially when we had to make one to win it. But our girls were cool as ice. I'm so excited for the effort they put in. It was a well-deserved win, and I can't wait to cheer them on in Florida."